1. Make a Commitment to Change
To start out you have to make a commitment to change and accepting that it will be difficult at first. And the first thing you have to change is the way you think about vegetables before you eat them. If you look at a veggie and think, “this is awful,” before it even gets in your mouth, you are not going to like it no matter what you do. You need to discard that initial reaction to your veggies. If you can do that, you can re-train your taste buds.
2. Re-train Your Taste Buds
We evolved over millions of years to enjoy the taste of foods that are good for us. It took less than a century for big business to retrain our taste buds to prefer things that are bad for us. They did that by making bad things taste like good things. Many good foods have a little sugar in them. There is nothing wrong with that. Lots of good healthy foods have a little MSG in them. Yeah – it’s true. Our taste buds evolved so you would like a little MSG, so big business decided to make an artificial MSG they could add to their empty calorie foods so you would like those better. The good news is that natural foods are where the artificial sweeteners and “flavor enhancers” got their inspiration in the first place! So it is not all that hard to learn to enjoy them. Your taste buds aren’t broken, they just need to be retrained. By weaning yourself off the things that confuse your taste buds, like artificial flavors and sweeteners, they can begin to return to normal – and eventually actually develop the ability to taste – and enjoy – the natural nutrition in the foods you put in your mouth.
3. Learn Why Not All Vegetables are Created Equal
When I was a kid I thought I hated vegetables. I didn’t really hate vegetables, I hated the mushy nasty things Mom pulled out of the freezer or dumped from a can. But I discovered that those nasty things aren’t real vegetables at all – they’re something else, a shadow of their former selves. You see, when you overcook, freeze, genetically engineer and otherwise “improve” a vegetable it becomes something else. It isn’t a vegetable any more – really? It certainly isn’t food. It doesn’t taste like real food (once you re-learn what real food tastes like, that is). In fact, it doesn’t even taste good without a lot of salt and artificial (or so-called “natural”) flavorings that probably aren’t good for you. On the other hand, fresh organic nutrient-dense vegetables taste wonderful, even with nothing on them! I love just plain broccoli or cauliflower. A carrot is like dessert. Avocados – yum!
But take a plastic bag of frozen broccoli, peas and cauliflower, boil it into a limp slimy green mess until it stinks like rotting garbage, slop a ton of margarine and salt on top to hide the taste (doesn’t help the smell though) – and no wonder you hate vegetables! If you had to cope with that when growing up, you’ve been scarred for life. So to change that pattern you need to realize that the taste of a vegetable changes drastically depending on how it’s cooked; or, in my case, not cooked. The taste of raw organic veggies is wonderful to me now, and it will be to you. I promise. To ease your transition, you can try lightly steaming your veggies, or lightly cooking them with a minimum of organic olive oil in a wok.
4. Stick With Your Program
In this age of processed foods and sugar-addictions the poor vegetable can’t possibly have the appeal of a chemically-processed burger that’s been field-tested by marketing and psychology experts who know all your buttons. Making a transition to real, organic, whole food isn’t going to happen overnight. So once you get past your initial disappointment in your vegetables, keep eating them anyway. Eventually, you’ll begin to appreciate them, and then even really desire them. But you must stick with the program. Don’t give up just because that pizza is still calling to you. But if you can’t stand it any more, go ahead and have a slice. Sometimes you have to treat yourself compassionately – don’t give in easily, but don’t make it such a burden that you resent what you are trying to achieve and stop altogether. After the pizza, topped with veggies perhaps, you can get back on the horse and keep on riding.
5. Drink Your Veggies
Juice bars are popping up all over providing fresh tasty alternatives to eating vegetables. Keep in mind that even fresh juices are powerful, concentrated foods and some commercial juice bars include additives like sugar, flavorings or even dairy products. Juiced veggies also don’t have the fiber you get from their whole counterparts. I always tell people to “chew your juices and drink your solids.” You see, digestion starts in the mouth, so for optimum digestion you want to chew solids enough to liquefy them and “chew” liquids to mix them with the enzymes in your saliva. Even more convenient is to get a juicer for your home. I recommend the Samson 6-in-1 juicer, a single auger masticating juicer. It is the best bang for the buck because it does everything, including wheatgrass, has a slow 80 RPM motor, reducing heat and oxidation for optimum nutrition, and cleans up in just two minutes.
6. Stick with Raw
Many raw vegetables make great snacks just by adding hummus, salad dressings and salsa. Keep them ready for quick easy access by cleaning them when you get back from the store. Cut them into bite-size bits and store in the green bags you can get at health food stores. I keep them at eye level in my refrigerator so I see them first whenever I get the munchies. Broccoli, cauliflower and carrots go well with just about anything, and organic baby tomatoes can be eaten just by themselves.
7. Eat from the Rainbow
When you think about vegetables, you probably think green. But vegetables come in a wide variety of colors, from red to purple, yellow to orange. Each color brings a whole new set of vitamins, minerals and flavors to your table. Think of ROYGBIV when you are shopping and you will be eating from the rainbow.
8. Eat Seasonally
Fresh, in-season, locally grown vegetables offer the most flavor and nutrition. For example, asparagus is ideal in the spring. Arugula, corn and tomatoes are best in the summer. Broccoli, eggplant and pumpkins reach their peak in the fall, Many green veggies are best in the winter.
All in all, when you eat with veggies in mind, your health will improve, your energy will rise and you will love eating your veggies!