My daughter hands me her breakfast plate with the turkey sausage side polished and the waffle side untouched. My bodybuilder brain thinks, oh, she is craving protein. From a macro perspective, this is great. Shrugging my shoulders, I dispose of her waffle and finish washing the morning dishes. No less than 30 mins later, Desiree takes me by the hand to the freezer. She points and says,
I look at her quizzically and repeat back to her “waffle”? She nods emphatically, yes, “waffle”. Maybe her hunger just kicked in, I think. Maybe she didn’t realize she was still hungry when she gave me her plate, maybe she…
Before I could get any further in my thought process, Desiree snatches the frozen blueberry waffle out of my hand.
Ahh, she probably wants to toast it herself. In our new house, we have a double oven that is Desi-height. She believes it is hers so we have been pretend-baking with door open, oven mitt, baking sheet, in-out, in-out, open-close, open-close — an hour of entertainment for a two year old.
And yet, as I point to the toaster oven up on the counter, she shakes her head and proceeds to take a bite out of the frozen waffle. “Yuck!” I blurt out, expecting her facial expression to reflect my empathetic distaste. Instead, she grins and takes another bite.
Desiree knows…it wasn’t the carb or flavor of the toasted waffle she was rejecting, it was the texture.
There are very few types of sushi I cannot stomach. Unlike many Westerners, I welcome uni (sea urchin…when it’s high quality), tako (octopus), ika (squid), ikura (roe), and natto (fermented soy bean). However, there’s one fish I can’t manage. Despite attempts on several occasions over the years, just the sight of it makes my stomach turn. I realize as I watch my daughter chomp down a frozen waffle, it’s not the visual or even the taste, it’s the texture…
Herring roe. 数の子. Kazunoko
Herring eggs are very small, but they stick together: the roe forms a single, cohesive mass with a firm, rubbery texture. The roe is dried and then pickled in salt. Because “kazunoko” means “numerous offspring,” it became a typical New Year food with a lucky name. ~ Japanese Food Dictionary
At this point, you may be wondering, what does this blog have to do with prepping for a show, dieting, or any kind of body transformation? Is Sarah needing a sushi fix after just a week of dieting? Nope, but I did send my husband an emergency text yesterday…
Honey, can you buy and make some tilapia for me?”
My decision to switch out ground turkey for tilapia? For no other reason than texture…
Texture matters. More than we realize.
Here are five steps to make texture work for you and not against you:
1. Acknowledge your texture preferences.
Think about your favorite foods, and specifically, your favorite fruits and veggies…are there common textures you prefer across food groups?
For me, I prefer slimy, soft, and mushy! My favorite proteins are eggs and fish, a mushier carb (oats vs rice), and softer more water-dense fruits and veggies like peaches, pears, steamed mushrooms, artichokes, and green beans. My sweet tooth, too, steers me toward ice cream, yogurt, and puddings.
2. Differentiate between a taste aversion and texture aversion.
This is my Kazunoko example or my daughter’s “Leggo my (frozen) Eggo” quandary.
3. Is it hunger or lack of desired texture (or texture diversity) driving your overconsumption?
If we’re not satisfying our texture craving, we’re more apt to return to the kitchen looking for more. In contest prep or body transformation where we are deliberately creating a small caloric deficit over an extended period of time, texture can be a game-changer in terms of successfully staying on plan…and staying happy. If mushy oats leave you craving more, see if a tablespoon of cacao nibs or a small handful of nuts help. Or, if you need to be strict about your macros, switch out the mushy oats for firmer brown rice for that meal (or a period of time…see next).
4. Are you developing a texture aversion due to a food rut?
Whether you’re on a rigid meal plan or not, many of us eat the same foods day in and out. Often it’s not a craving driving you to a certain food, it’s a habit of convenience. Over time, you get into a food rut…you may even develop a food allergy or aversion to a particular food from simply eating it too often. Your body demands diversity!
This is my turkey to tilapia switch-out last night. Too much turkey and chicken was creating a mild aversion, which I solved with the softer consistency of tilapia.
5. Are there memories or inappropriate associations related to the texture that you can overcome in the interest of an expanded palate?
Sometimes we have aversions to texture that have nothing to do with food. A lot of people have an aversion to sushi because of the slime factor. Interestingly, you are associating the slime as something disgusting before you really taste it. Or, maybe a childhood memory, bad drinking experience in college, or a food aversion during pregnancy are the culprits. Dissecting the cause can lead to overcoming the aversion.
An expanded palate has many benefits when you’re traveling, but here, we can see the direct benefit in body transformation. When we honor our texture preferences and/or introduce more texture diversity on our plates, we become satiated more easily and quickly without over-consuming or self-sabotaging.
Like with everything, awareness…mindfulness…knowing your preferences will correlate to success. Texture is just one more reason not to blindly subscribe to a cookie-cutter meal plan. None of us are one size fits all — at a point of time or over time.