But I Hate Vegetables! …and Other Adult Excuses to Not Eat Your Vegetables
Welcome to Part 3 of the Vegetable Excuse series what to do if you ‘hate vegetables’. It tends to be a specific few vegetables I find, and tends to influence your opinions of other veg. If you hate a specific vegetable, do you agree?
If you missed part 1 and 2 – check them out.Part 1 is a MUST READ. It gets in to WHY this post just had to be written. You can catch part 1 here >>> Veggie Excuse 1 – Vegetables take too much time and part 2 here >>> Veggie Excuse 2 – Vegetables are boring.
Veggie Excuse #3 – I hate/won’t eat/despise (insert veggies here)
What RD’s Have to Say
Everyone has taste preferences. We get that. We aren’t going to make you eat broccoli if you hate broccoli. We’re not going to make you eat salad, if you hate salad!
Vegetables are not a one-trick pony.
There isn’t only 1 way to eat them, or get enough. It’s all about getting to know yourself better, and occasionally, getting outside of your comfort zone. Taste preferences change. Negative past eating experiences can sometimes be so overblown in our minds, that when we go to eat that food again, we’re like ‘Oh, that vegetable is actually good when you prepare it like that!’
I think the important thing is to not DEFINE yourself by your food choices. You’re ALLOWED to change your mind, ya know.
When kids are picky eaters, it’s part of the “growing up” process and their way of exerting power and control over their lives. When you’re an adult, I’m sure there are enough things that you have control and responsibility over, that you can let go of that when it comes to food!
Change Your Mind
Casey Berglund from Worthy and Well says that she doesn’t buy that you hate ALL vegetables. But if you tell yourself that, you will make it true. What told yourself “I can find vegetables that I like” instead?
Your thoughts become your reality. Just because kale and cauliflower are trendy, doesn’t mean you have to eat only those vegetables. Find ones you like and eat them. Experiment. Appreciate and be grateful for the variety out there.
Focus on What You Like
Andrea Falcone really works to truly understand what her clients like. She advocates for vegetables should be the highlight at lunch and dinner. Fruits at breakfast and snacks! She says:
I encourage my clients to make this happen most days of the week. Most responses are, “How?” “Do I have to?” “I just don’t like a lot of them”. So we start to work.
My first go at helping clients reach this goal is working with them with whatever fruits or vegetables they do like. I think most people fear that as a dietitian, I am going to tell them to eat something their palate doesn’t like, or that they have a bad association with. Why would I do that? #Misconception.
Focus on Flavour, Colour, Texture, and Taste
I always start with really getting in to the client’s taste preferences. If sweet is your thing, let’s start with the sweeter vegetables. Though they also bring more energy (calorically) with them, I factor this in when discussing balance with clients, and help them figure out ways to mix these veg with newer ones. I work mainly with textures and colours, so a first go would be roasted sweet potatoes, butternut squash and carrots, so that the flavours marry together nicely. Other hits with my pickiest eaters (whether the little kids or big kids), is mixing cauliflower into a macaroni and cheese casserole, or button mushrooms into a burger. Again, my thought is often colour and texture, or consistency of the food.
The Key to Craving Something
Andrea finds the key to craving something is to add it to your life somewhere consistently. The more you do it, the more your body will want it daily. I’ve noticed my clients will also be more likely to try other things too, as they get into a habit!
Creating a habit is key – your brain will take the path of least resistance, and make that vegetable choice if you create routine around it. Can you think of any routines you do, each and every day, because you’ve built a habit around it? Do the same with with vegetables, and over the months – it will become second nature.
Vincci Tsui has 3 fool-proof tips to get past eating only 3 vegetables and expanding your repertoire.
Love What You Love
I think sometimes people underestimate the amount of vegetables they actually like. I once had a client whose food record showed that they ate vegetables and fruit at every meal, but lamented that they “didn’t eat enough vegetables” simply because they don’t like salad! (Truth: I am also not big on salad.) So, really take stock of the vegetables and fruit you like, and even if it is just a list of three or four, challenge yourself to find creative ways to prepare them so that your taste buds don’t get bored.
Dive Deep Into Your Veggie Hate
Take a moment to explore what is it about the vegetables and fruit that you don’t like – is it the texture? Flavour? The time it takes to prepare? Traumatizing childhood memories of having to finish your peas before you get dessert? Perhaps you are a legit “supertaster” who has heightened sensitivity to cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale, making them taste bitter and awful to you – still, there are tons of non-cruciferous vegetables out there that you can potentially like! By diving deep in identifying the real issue, it helps to narrow down the solutions that are more likely to work for you.
If All Else Fails…
Vegetables can be easily “hidden” in mixed dishes like soups, smoothies, sauces, stews, casseroles and curries. You can even tip in some extra frozen vegetables into a canned soup or frozen dinner. If you’re a meal planner, challenge yourself to plan your meals around the vegetables instead of the meat. (i.e. instead of saying, “What will I have with the chicken?” Say, “What would go good with these carrots?”) Or, as one of my dietitian friends says, sometimes you just have to grow up and choke down your vegetables already!
Make Vegetables Effortless!
Nicole Osinga says “I think the easiest way of ‘sneaking’ in more fruit and vegetables is to do anything but eat them raw. I find that the texture of raw vegetables could be a reason for the aversion. Instead I recommend being creative in cooking (or even baking!) processes to sneak them in!”
Here are some go-to’s for sneaking in more veggies:
- Homemade Veggie Soups. I like to refer to them as ‘liquid salads’. Totally a great way to enjoy f&v with a more pleasant and easy-to-manage texture. Homemade, pureed soups are so easy to make and are just about fool-proof!
- Cauliflower+ Carbs. Yes cauliflower could replace the carbs in your recipes (i.e. cauliflower rice), but why not encourage them to play together? My favourite recipe is this cauliflower mac & cheese casserole!
- Zucchini & Banana Muffins. The pleasant, moist texture of bananas and zucchinis make them perfect candidates to use in baked goods! Check out my banana zucchini walnut muffins .
- Chelsey Love encourages her clients to add green leafy veggies such as kale or spinach to your morning smoothie! I had a client who told me she couldn’t STAND green leafy’s, and wouldn’t even consider trying them. I eventually challenged her to try spinach in her smoothie filled with frozen mango and half a frozen banana, and she LOVED it! To this day she loves having her “Green Shake” in the morning.
- Michelle Jaelin knows from personal experience, that raw vegetables are often not culturally appropriate! She says: “My parents hate eating raw vegetables. It is common in many East Asian cuisines that raw vegetables are considered uncooked food. One of the easiest ways to incorporate more vegetables into meals was putting them into eggs for breakfast or dinner. Scrambled eggs with chopped spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes can be eaten as both a side dish at dinner with rice, or as a breakfast item in the morning!”
- I love to dice carrots in my food processor, and use it as a filler for anything with ground beef. Lasagnas, casseroles, stir fry’s, enchiladas, etc. I substitute half the ground beef called for with finely diced carrots. Nobody is any wiser – I’ve tricked my husband and father-in-law with this before!
- Just add more veg. I can’t think of a recipe that I haven’t been able to squeeze in a bit more veg. A soup calls for a carrot? Add two. A stir fry calls for half a pepper? Add a whole one.
Consider Your Health
Casey Berglund has a great client story she shared.
I’ve had many clients who have said “I hate veggies,” but one in particular stands out. He stands out because when I did his nutrition assessment, I found that he ate well above five servings per day, despite his self-proclaimed “hate.” Obviously, I needed to investigate, and here’s what he said: “I treat my vegetables like a pill for my health. And I’d rather take food as a pill than medication. So I make sure I get them in.”
“Veggies do have superpowers when it comes to our health. They have vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants, phytochemicals and more. They help your digestion, help you manage your weight, reduce your risk for disease, and give you energy. So even if you don’t love the taste of them, learn to love what they do for you, just like the client I mentioned above. Learn to love how they make you feel.”
Let’s Experiment with Vegetables
Let’s face it. We know, deep down that hating all veggies is a weak excuse.
Can you relate to it, though? I want you to think about where that thought comes from. A past experience? A dislike of one or two veggies that has spanned to encompass the rest?
Now, for the tricky part. Let’s get outside your comfort zone.
- Make a list of veggies you love.
- Make a list of veggies you say you hate.
- Consider why you like or dislike each vegetable in the list. Consider the flavours, textures, and if cooking method influences your like or dislike of that vegetable.
- Choose one vegetable you dislike. Consider how you can alter it to give it another go. This may mean ‘sneaking’ it in. It might mean trying a different cooking method. This may be roasting it with a vegetable who’s flavour profile you enjoy.
Give it a go, and share with us in the comments, or on social media the results of your experiment!
Next week, we talk about the last 2 excuses!