(this is KEY for anyone struggling with weight loss, issues with energy levels or frequent colds/flu!)
I didn’t start eating vegetables until I was 19 years old. For me, eating a caesar salad was a success.. And the only reason I liked it was because of the croutons and dressing. Fast forward 10 years, the majority of my diet is based on plants, and you can often catch me snacking on raw carrots or peppers. So how did this change happen? What happened in my diet (and taste buds) to help me start loving vegetables as much as I do?
Real change takes time.
It wasn’t overnight, I’ll tell you that. It’s clear that just knowing something is good for you isn’t enough to actually make the change to your lifestyle. The key is to make it a habit- but to get there, you have to start small. In order to create a new habit, there need to be various factors in place. One of those factors is it needs to be EASY! So here we go… my tips for making eating vegetables easier:
Why does it even matter if I eat vegetables?
Vegetables are full of micronutrients- vitamins and minerals that are key for health. Different colors of vegetables give you different nutrients… and while you CAN live without a variety of vitamins and minerals in your life, I don’t recommend it. For example- low levels of magnesium, found in green veggies like spinach and broccoli, can contribute to high blood pressure, muscle cramping and fatigue. A lack of Vitamin A, found in carrots, sweet potatoes and other orange veggies, can cause dry skin issues, dry eyes, and problems seeing in the dark. So yes… vegetables (and fruit!) are super important to a healthy diet.
So how can you start adding in more vegetables to your diet if you don’t like them?
#1 Pair them with something you like. Think about a dish you like to eat- for example, I have a client that loves cheese, but she is not a fan of most vegetables. For her, the best way to start eating them is in a greek salad with some feta cheese, or blended in soups with some parmesan on top.
#2 Try new vegetables! Its so easy to get stuck in a rut of eating the same 3 things over and over. Green beans, broccoli, maybe a carrot or two. But have you ever tried parsnips? Brussels sprouts? Eggplant? Next time you go to the grocery store, pick up a vegetable you’ve never tried before, and use Google (or send me an email and I can help you!) to find a recipe.
#3 Prepare the same vegetables, but try different ways. The typical ways of prepping veggies are steamed, boiled or raw, and often there isn’t a lot of creativity in the preparation methods. You might not like steamed green beans, but have you ever tried them sauteed with garlic and soy sauce?
And if that doesn’t work?
4# Try again! Remember the first time you had a glass of wine or a beer? Chances are, you weren’t a huge fan of the taste. Studies show that it can take anywhere from 7-9 times for you to grow accustomed to a taste. It also helps to go in with an open mind- if you pick up your fork convinced you’re going to hate your dinner, you probably will.
#5 Add a bit of salt or fat. There’s nothing a bit of cheese or some butter can’t fix. This seems counterintuitive.. If I’m trying to eat healthier you want me to ADD butter? Yes. If a little butter helps you eat a plate of vegetables, I would call that a win.
#6 Mix them into another dish. There are a lot of vegetables that can easily mix into a typical recipe without you really noticing the addition. For example- add spinach or chopped zucchini to a smoothie, mix in some steamed cauliflower with your mashed potatoes, or add in mushrooms or tomatoes to your pasta sauce.
Don’t freak out if sometimes you just DON’T feel like eating a vegetable.
Sometimes eating a cookie is just what you feel like doing. Remember- its not one or the other. You can have a day filled with veggies, AND enjoy a cookie. I do promise you this- the more veggies you eat, the more you will like them. You may even find that you crave them! This is all part of the process- the more real food you add into your diet, the less you’ll have space for the other stuff. Not only that, but if you pay attention, you’ll notice changes to your digestion, changes to your energy levels, and changes to your appearance. As a recovered vegetable hater, I can attest to the power of veggies!