I Like Junk Food Better Than Veggies! …and Other Adult Excuses to Not Eat Your Vegetables
Welcome to the FINAL post of the Vegetable Excuse series. We’re going to be talking about science taste preferences, and wrap up how to get in 5+ servings of veggies a day.
If you missed the first 3 parts of the series – be SURE to check them out below:
Veggie Excuse #4 – I like (insert junk food here) better than vegetables.
It’s time to put on your adult-ing pants, folks. This is coming at you HARD.
I have to laugh when someone says “oh well I prefer the taste of potato chips & dip over carrots and hummus.”
Well no shit. Who doesn’t? We are driven as human beings to prefer energy dense foods – a survival mechanism turned serious cause for concern, since food has become SO easily accessible over the last century.
Whitty Nutrition describes it perfectly. She says: One of the main reasons vegetables are not as appealing to many people is that most of them are neither overly sweet, savory, or salty on their own. Sugar, fat, and salt represent the ‘tri-fecta’ of appealing flavors to us humans, and therefore our taste buds need a bit of re-training before they are willing to accept new flavours such as those inherently contained in plain vegetables.
It goes a little like this. A child needs to be guided in “healthy and unhealthy food choices” and adult knows the different, or at least should.
Carrots and hummus is never going to taste as good as sour cream and onion chips and dip, but embracing the fact that one food item is a treat food and the other is an every day food is a decision, not a taste preference. However, there are things you CAN do to get vegetables in, while still enjoying the taste.
Stick with Flavours You Enjoy
Playing up the flavors you like is one way to tackle this issue. For example, if you have a sweet tooth adding spinach to a fruit smoothie can hide the flavor while ‘sneaking in’ a cup of greens. If sweet potatoes aren’t quite sweet enough, add a bit of brown sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon to play up this flavor profile until you can slowly decrease the amount added to be palatable.
Same thing works for people with a salty preference by adding cheese to vegetables like broccoli.
We need to learn to walk before we can run! This plays on the biggest message I give to every one of my clients which is PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION.
While adding lots of sugar, salt, and fat to your vegetable side dishes may seem to ‘unbalance’ the benefits of eating them in the first place, if you work on continuing to consume vegetables the way you find most palatable but simply decreasing these ‘add-ons’ by about ¼ to ½ each time you make the dish you will eventually find yourself needing less and less of the ‘tri-fecta’ while still getting the same enjoyment, therefore re-establishing the balance and benefit of eating more vegetables everyday!
The key is to find the balance between treat food and healthy food.
Realize and admit that healthy foods like fresh vegetables are not going to taste like manufactured food-like products like veggie chips. These manufactured processed food products have be designed to make you like them more than fresh fruits and vegetables, using addicting unhealthy ingredients like salt, sugar and fat.
My best advice, go cold turkey or cut back on foods that are highly processed to change your taste preference. Realize that these treat foods are not healthy and your can’t thrive on them. Round out your meals with vegetables to reduce your risk of taking in too large of portions of carbohydrate and protein containing foods! Go with 2 cups of vegetables and lunch and supper, not because you “love” eating them, but because you can’t cut out an entire food group and be healthy.
Veggie Excuse #5 – It’s hard to get 5+ servings of vegetables in a day
5 servings sounds like a lot. I get it. But really, if you get creative, and make a point to add in vegetables to each meal and snack, it can be easy!
One strategy that Kristyn from Culinary Solutions finds helpful is something she learned with her son. She learned to look at the whole day, and to look at all meals and planned snacks as an opportunity to offer vegetables and fruits. She found so many times that she would focus too much on the supper meal – and that was the meal where my son seemed to have the least interest in veg/fruit.
Sound familiar? I’m sure many adults can relate! Take a look at the WHOLE day and see where you can sneak extra portions of vegetables in.
Even Dietitians Don’t Always Feel Like Vegetables!
Justine the dietitian has a great story.
She says: “as someone who lived off of grilled cheese sandwiches (with plenty of ketchup) and chocolate chip cookies as a child, it’s a wonder I landed a career in nutrition and dietetics! I am a registered dietitian and I hereby admit – I do not crave vegetables. Never have, and probably never will. Many of my clients can relate to this. Fruits are easier for me to get enough of, and again, many of my clients are the same. I love anything sweet…I actually have a genetic variant that causes me to crave sweet foods and beverages more than the average person (yes, I am blaming my sweet tooth on my genes). Nevertheless, I still manage to eat a ton of veggies, averaging about 5-6 servings daily.
My tip is so simple yet so effective – it’s all about product placement and accessibility.
Do not use the crispers in your fridge for your fruits and veggies! Instead, make your fruits and veggies visible by placing them at the front of the middle shelves in your fridge. For fruits and veggies that do not need to be refrigerated, keep them in a clear bowl on your kitchen counter. This serves as a reminder for you to eat your veggies and fruit.
For even more of a benefit, make sure all of your fruits and veggies are ready-to-eat. Every Sunday, I cut up fresh fruits and veggies so that they are easy to grab during the always-hectic work week. These tips are backed by some extremely interesting research, which has proven that these strategies are effective. Make veggies and fruits visible and ready-to-eat and you can up your intake without even trying!”
Eat What You Love, But Make Healthy Tweaks!
Kristyn Hall teaches her clients to stick to what they love, but make tweaks to how you prepare it. She speaks from her own experience with having a picky eater in her house, and can help with both adults, and kids!
She says: “Looking at my meals and planned snacks as a whole, I then looked at foods that my child naturally gravitated toward to see how I could incorporate veg/fruits within that food.
I loved adding in pureed fruits and vegetables to my child’s pancakes. I would add in pureed pumpkin, pureed cauliflower, applesauce or frozen & thawed bananas to his pancakes – a food that I was having success with.
Having the ability to add in nutrition to my child’s food offerings helped me focus on what I WAS doing to help build better food habits, without starting a food fight”.
Andrea D’ambrosio tells her clients to make your salads the star of the meal! This is a sure-fire way to boost those veggies. This way you will look forward to them and fight to get the last bit of salad from the bowl. I do not lie; this honestly happens in my house.
I tend to do a simple homemade oil and vinegar dressing and then have something sweet, something crunchy and a flavour boost in all my salads. For example, try my “grape & feta kale salad” with sunflower seeds and raisins or apple walnut salad with goat cheese and endive greens.
By combining flavours you will enjoy your salad and it will never be a boring part of the meal, instead it will take centre stage as a delicious master piece!
If you need more ideas, our first 3 posts are chock-full of AMAZING veggies tips, and recipes. Be sure to check them out!
Thanks so much to all the amazing TOP Canadian dietitians who participated in this series – I think we’ve tackled all the major veggie excuses in a way that everyone can take just a little something from this, and implement it today!
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