After visiting family out in western North Dakota last week, I was reminded that not everyone goes bonkers for brussels or insane over eggplant. Even so, I was shocked that some relatives went multiple meals without anything green on their plate! I get that I’m overly excited about vegetables, but when the research shows us that a diet high in fruits and vegetables helps control blood pressure, prevent diabetes, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, manage weight, protect our eyes and skin, and prevent against some types of cancer, it just MAKES sense to eat a more plants. You don’t have to go completely vegetarian if you don’t want to, but the jury has concluded that plant-based diets promote health and well being.
I totally appreciate that we all have different experiences, cultures, and taste buds. I mean really, how exciting is it that we aren’t all the same?! … When we sit down for dinner, all of those perspectives and factors surrounding food and vegetables shape our experience and what we consume.
And while we may not all be on board the brussel sprout train, I’ve worked with a lot of people who have taste aversions, preferences, and stories attached to what they don’t like and it can be challenging to work with. I get it. But, if all we ever focus on is what we don’t like, guess what, we won’t like anything. It’s like if someone says, “don’t think about the pink elephant.” Naturally, all you can think about is the pink elephant. When I develop meal plans and counsel people with intolerances or preferences, we focus on the foods that DO work. The vegetables that he or she DOES like and work from there. We all have to start somewhere, but we first have to start and if we can take actionable steps to improve the quality of our life, what’s stopping us? A preference or two?? That’s insane. Learn what you like and start there.
Let me tell you, if you’re one of those people thinking “vegetables taste bland,” “vegetables are boring,” or “vegetables are expensive”…..you may have been consuming a significant amount of sugar/fat/salt and your taste buds are in a bit of freak out mode. You may not have been taught how to cook vegetables, and that’s ok! We can always learn. You may not be eating in season. We can always opt for frozen vegetables and plan meals around the sale produce.
If you’re needing more inspiration to love vegetables, check out these 3 easy tips:
- Keep eating them.
Like people, vegetables become more comfortable once we get to know them a little better. How comfortable would you be the first time you had coffee with a stranger? What if you kept having coffee with them every week? It gets a little more comfortable (or you start to learn you really don’t like them 😉 ). Either way, it takes time for our bodies (and our minds) to accept change. Even with something as trivial as a vegetable. Be patient with the process and be reassured you’re doing something really great for yourself.
- Add a new vegetable to a food you already enjoy.
If you love soup or casseroles, experiment by adding different vegetables to the mix. This method allows you small bites melded into the flavor of the other ingredients. So, if you don’t love a side of steamed broccoli, there’s a much stronger probability that by adding small chunks into a spaghetti sauce it could bring new life to the cruciferous vegetable without worrying about the potential drab of overcooked broccoli.
- Do 2 minutes of digging.
Google or Pinterest the vegetable + the word recipe and see what populates. Or get a little daring and add a few more key words like vegan, dairy free, or stir fry. You can easily do this in the grocery store (PS this is what I do all the time). The search engine algorithm will put popular and highly trafficked sites first, so you can rest assured that it’s better tested than if you went to an individual recipe search site (like allrecipes.com). Or, if you see someone checking out Japanese eggplant in the store and you’ve always been curious, make an intentional connection and ask what they use it for. You’d be surprised how kind, helpful, and eager to share people are but we have to be open. Open to options. Open to trying things more than once. Open to possibilities.
Hope that was helpful and let me know – how have you learned to love vegetables? Is there a vegetable you’ve come to love that you previously disliked? How did that happen? Our experiences can help give insight and encouragement to others. If you need more one-on-one support, head over to my services page.