As a practicing Registered Dietitian, some of the most common questions and statements I hear from patients include “How do I eat all of these vegetables?”, “How can I hide some of these vegetables?”, and “I can’t eat that many veggies.” First and foremost, it’s important to understand why eating vegetables matters.
Vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals, but in a country with a 37% obesity rate, they have another significant health benefit. Vegetables are high in nutrients, but low in calories, making them a key player in weight management. This means you can eat a hefty portion of nutritious vegetables, without consuming very many calories. By filling half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, you naturally lighten the caloric load of a meal. The volume of the vegetables fills your stomach up, so you feel satisfied when you’re finished eating versus hungry and wanting more.
Knowing their benefit is one step, but actually consuming more vegetables is a whole different story.
3 Ways to Learn to Love Vegetables
1. Don’t always hide them. Try making vegetables the forefront of your meals. Hiding them all of the time perpetuates the notion that they taste bad. Here’s the thing, I want you to like your vegetables and I want you to like them for life. Instead of tricking yourself and sneaking them in, retrain your tastes to instinctively choose vegetables. How you felt about steamed Brussels sprouts as a child, may not be the way you feel about delicious, roasted Brussels sprouts as an adult. Open-mindedness is key.
2. Cook them. I’ll admit it, eating two cups of raw baby carrots is sometimes a lot to chew. Having two half cup servings of cooked collard greens and zucchini is much easier to get in without wearing out your jaw. Think about incorporating roasted, broiled, grilled, and steamed vegetables into both meals and snacks.
3. Enjoy variety. I love broccoli. I could eat broccoli with every meal, every day. That being said, looking at a plate which is half full of broccoli isn’t as appealing as seeing a variety of colorful vegetables. Mixing up your vegetables will make it feel like less of a requirement and more of a tasteful assortment. This Tomato and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breast with Garlicky Broccoli recipe is full of veggies, a delight to look at, and even better to eat. To really amp it up, have a mixed green salad to start. Soon enough, you’ll have a hard time not eating your vegetables!
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