At APH Personal Training, we love veggies. All of them (at least the ones that we've been able to try - which is a lot).
But…a lot of people don’t. We've seen clients lie, scheme and wriggle their way out of eating anything close to their 5-a-day.
Then eventually, one just came out and said it:
“I just don’t like them.”
After we go over the shock, we decided to look into why that might be...
...and now we've figured it out.
A lot of people cannot stand vegetables.
Even some of our super-smart, successful clients who are killing it in their chose professions and have achieved some incredible things...
...cower at the thought of adding an extra helping of steamed broccoli onto their plate.
And it turns out their not alone.
In fact, in 2017, only 29% of adults were found to be eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day!
Now of course there are a range of potential social factors that could have contributed to that statistic (lack of education, financial pressures etc), but it's pretty difficult to believe that those factors affected 71% of the population at the time of the survey.
And our clients definitely know the benefits of eating their veggies, like:
- The huge numbers of nutrients they provide to keep us healthy
- The fibre they provide to keep our gut bacteria in check
- The satiety they provide to help us consume less calories and maintain (or reach) a healthy bodyweight...
...and many others
Plus, we help some of them manage their food budget where needed to make sure they can include plenty of healthy options in the weekly shop.
So we decided to dig a little deeper.
The first and most obvious reason was psychological.
For example, having a sloppy spoonful of over-boiled sprouts shoved on your plate and being told you can’t leave the table until you’ve eaten them is enough to give any child some psychological discomfort – the kind that stays with you well into adulthood.
After all, our early experiences of food stay with us.
Still feel guilty every time you leave food on your plate?
Yep, thought so.
But many of our clients have been able to overcome these kinds of hurdles and have adopted habits like eating slowly and stopping when they're are satisfied (not stuffed) - regardless of what's left on their plate.
They still don't like vegetables.
There had to be something else going on.
The more and more we thought about it, the more clear and obvious it became:
It's the taste.
To a lot of people, vegetables taste bitter as hell...
...and a lot of people don’t like eating bitter things.
Well a lot of it has to do with our ancestry, and survival.
See, vegetables create alkaloids, which defend them from a variety of things, including us!
Alkaloids have many different effects.
Some are positive, killing pain and providing stimulation (wohoo – caffeine!).
But others? Not so positive. In fact, some can even result in death (it’s called deadly nightshade for a reason…).
Our ancestors were quick on the uptake, and so we’ve evolved to detect and avoid the bitterness that comes from vegetables. Because they could, you know, kill us.
And it's not just humans...rats will run for the hills when offered bitter foods (like kale, for example) as well.
Anyhow, enough about why you don't want to eat your veggies.
What can you actually do about it?
Here are 3 things you can try to hit that elusive 5-a-day target:
1. Challenge yourself
Pick a vegetable…any vegetable that you wouldn’t usually eat.
Psych yourself up…appreciate that you’re really putting yourself out there, appreciate that you’re anxious and uncomfortable, and then…do it anyway.
Yep, just eat it. Eat it.
Afterwards (whether you thought it was awesome, disgusting or just plain dull), congratulate yourself.
You did it!
The work doesn’t stop there though…sometimes we need to try something a good few times before we learn to like it.
(Remember how many times you had to drink beer/wine/coffee before your taste buds really enjoyed it?)
Keep going. No matter how disgusting and sock-like your chosen vegetable tastes at first.
2. Try different flavor combinations
Chefs do this all the time to come up with things that make us go “wow”.
So get your Gordon Ramsay on. Experiment. Try different combinations. You can use spicy, salty, sour flavours…whatever you fancy (but those 3 are often used to balance out bitterness).
You might find spinach impossible to enjoy on it’s own, but you might learn to love it as part of a pasta dish with crushed chillies, freshly squeezed lemon and a little salt.
Don't be afraid to get creative!
3. Make your veggies a bit more palatable
When we combine bitter foods (like vegetables, for example) with sweet or fatty flavours, we basically blunt the taste.
Almonds, coconut oil, maple syrup…all are good options for this.
Yes, they are all calorie dense, but don’t worry about that for now. It's important to start getting all of those wonderful nutrients into your body - even if that means a few extra calories. It's worth it, we promise.
Ps. We’re not talking a tablespoon of syrup here – just enough to make your chosen vegetable nemesis a little less punishing on your taste buds!
You don't have to try them all, and you certainly don't need to try them all today.
Start with what you have, do what you can and keep making progress.
You'll be loving (ok, marginally tolerating) your greens in no time!
Ps. Want to start eating, moving and living better TODAY?
Why not sign up to our FREE 5-Day Healthy Habits Course?
- What food you should be eating
- How much you should be eating
- How to stay on top of exercise even when you’re busy
- How to prepare the perfect meal
- How to set up for a good night’s sleep
Interested? You can learn more and sign up here.