You don’t develop a nutrient deficiency or a chronic disease because you had two days of eating almost no vegetables, or even a week. Life happens, and finding pleasure in eating is an important part of meals and snacks and of course, that includes vegetables. While recommendations are in place to support an overall eating pattern that promotes good health and prevents disease, constantly stressing about hitting a perfect five each day is probably causing more harm than good. Increasing vegetable intake or variety doesn’t have to happen overnight.
RE-VISITING VEGGIES OF THE PAST
Even a veggie that you thought you hated is worth re-considering. Why is it disliked? How was it cooked? How long ago was the last time you tried it? There are a lot of factors that can play into a decision of not liking something and often it’s worth another try to double-check. Cooking something a different way (steamed vs baked) or having it with different flavors (salt and pepper vs barbeque sauce) can make a big difference. Even simply trying it again when it hasn’t been eaten since childhood can often lead to discovering something is actually enjoyable (and if its not, then that’s okay too; we don’t all have to like everything).
CHANGE UP THE TYPES OF MEALS
Planning to have meals that naturally include vegetables is a great way to support having more veggies throughout the week. Here are some simple suggestions –
ADD A VEGGIE HERE AND THERE TO MEALS ALREADY ENJOYED
Being generous with how much veg you are putting in recipes or adding a new one in can be a great way to add more flavor to dishes already enjoyed. Here are some ideas for additions –
USE DIFFERENT WAYS OF COOKING
Experimenting with different ways of cooking the same vegetable can help keep things interesting during the week. Eating the same vegetable the same way over and over again will lead to what is called palate fatigue (simply said-everyone feels pretty over something after they have had to eat it on repeat long enough).
Different cooking methods can produce different textures and flavors in vegetables. Even opening up to try new cuisines entirely or types of dishes can lead to more ways to enjoy vegetables on a regular basis. Frozen, canned or fresh vegetables are all good options.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE ON VEGGIES
Forcing down vegetables that aren’t liked decreases the pleasure in eating. With so many different kinds of vegetables and ways of preparing them available to us, some trial and error can lead to discovering tasty additions rather than making eating veggies a dreaded chore. Start simple, allow some time and patience to hone your cooking skills, ask questions to help learn about what is like or not liked and why, consider pleasure and remember that with variety over time it all adds up.