Learning to like vegetables isn’t something just for young children, but for the whole family, adults included. It can actually be harder for adults who have gone their whole lives not in the habit of eating vegetables, or who have never enjoyed cooking or eating it.
Vegetables are full of vitamins, with many boasting vitamin A, which is essential for healthy vision and immune function, and vitamin K, which can help keep your bones healthy. Vegetables are also high in heart-healthy fiber, which helps you feel full. Plus, veggies are low in calories, so you can eat lots of them without damaging your waistline. Fresh vegetables are as clean as they come since they are unprocessed and come straight from the farm (just don’t forget to wash them before you eat them!). The recommended daily amount for most adults is 2½ to 3 cups. To make sure you get your fill, try carrots and hummus for a snack, start your meal with a salad, or begin your day with vegetables by adding peppers and onions to an omelet.
Here are some tips on how to learn to like veggies, and eat them more on a daily basis.
Flavor matters. Straight steamed veggies do not appeal to our taste buds the way sugar, salt and fat does. Get creative and find simple ways to make your vegetable dish more enticing to you. It’s worth it, if the goal is to shift to eating more vegetables as a long-term habit. Instead of feeling like it is a chore, you can find ways to enjoy it. Use olive oil or coconut oil to add a base flavor, and build from there. Add cheese to salads to make it more savory. Try fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper, spices, garlic or parmesan on different types of vegetables to see what combinations you like together. Try bolder flavors with low-sodium soy sauce, salsa, or curry to learn how flavorful vegetable dishes can be. Pay attention to how vegetable dishes are prepared when you go to restaurants, and have fun recreating your own version at home.
Follow someone’s lead. One strategy that will save you a lot of research and mental energy is to find someone (or a few people) to use as a healthy eating guide as you’re learning something new. If you have a friend or family member who is passionate about cooking, ask them to share one vegetable-heavy recipe a week with you, or ask them to join you for a weekly dinner where you cook together and you can learn as you are preparing the meal together. Making a veggie dish with someone you love makes it much more fun. Another option is to find cooking shows or certain chefs you like. Find their websites, cookbooks, social media accounts or phone apps that will give you lots of ideas on what vegetable dishes to make, and how to do it.
Add veggies to meals that you already like. If you love carbs, add roasted veggies to your pasta dishes or rice wraps. If you’re a meat lover, try making your own whole wheat meat pizza at home and add spinach, kale, or tomatoes. Add veggies to dishes like stew, chili, or most slow cooker meals where the savory flavor from tomato sauce or chicken broth take your attention away from the fact that you are actually consuming veggies! After some experimenting, you will find what combinations you like, and appreciate how veggies can bring texture, color, and flavor to your plate. If you don’t want to get overwhelmed or discouraged, just pick one vegetable you like and add to your daily meals for the first month. Go ahead, have broccoli every day (try different ways of preparing) until you’re ready to try a different vegetable!
Know your purpose. Vegetables in themselves may not draw you, but perhaps your health goals will inspire you instead. Eating more vegetables is one of the easiest ways to lose weight, which is something many people need to achieve for health reasons. Losing excess weight helps lower cholesterol, minimize heart disease, diabetes, and improve many other conditions and chronic illnesses. If weight loss is something your doctor has recommended for your treatment along with medication, then eating more vegetables is a straight-forward way to achieve your weight loss. Vegetables contain a significant lower number of calories so if half of your plate consists of veggies, your calorie count per meal and per day automatically lowers while actually adding to your nutritional intake. Despite all the good reasons there are, it’s most important for you to know your reason(s) for wanting to improve your health. If wanting to be healthier for your family is a better motivation than nutrition, that’s great. Just knowing why you are making effort to change will help you stay consistent.
We hope these tips have helped shift your thoughts and feelings about eating more veggies. Have a colorful and clean meal today!