We all know at least one reformed healthy eater – that smug friend who effortlessly switched from eating McDonald’s every single day, to living off kale juice and quinoa.
Engage them in conversation and you’ll discover that they love the healthy foods they used to hate, and they firmly believe that you too can enjoy eating healthily … if you stick with it long enough to let your taste buds adjust.
But if you’ve been eating natural wholefoods for weeks or even months and still hate every single mouthful, you may be starting to lose hope.
Don’t throw in the towel just yet, because believe it or not, it really is possible to turn healthy eating from a miserable experience to a pleasurable one. Here’s how:
Stop eating foods you don’t like the taste of
It’s commonsense, but you’d be surprised at how many new healthy eaters do this. Just because everyone says quinoa and chia seeds are good for you doesn’t mean you should eat them if you can’t stand them. The key to turning healthy eating into a lifestyle is to find healthy foods you enjoy.
If, for example, you’re struggling to find healthy carbs to replace your potato chip or white rice habit, do a little research into healthy versions of these foods. Go to a health food shop and look at the foods they have. Google the ones that catch your eye to see what people say they taste like. When you find a few that sound like your thing (at least in theory) buy a small portion and try them.
Stop reading recipes like they’re stories and start actually making them
A classic mistake of people who say they ‘hate how healthy food tastes’ is not getting adventurous. No one can live on plain egg white omelettes, broiled chicken breast and lettuce leaves without going crazy. There are lots of amazing flavour combinations that don’t involve sugar and artificial flavourings, you just have to go into the kitchen and start mixing things up to discover what you enjoy. Stock up on fresh herbs, spices, fresh stock and natural fats (yes, that includes dairy and animal fats), as these are packed with flavour and really help transform bland meals.
Stop making healthy versions of your favourite dishes if they don’t measure up
This is a contentious point, but it’s one I firmly stand by. Say, for example, you love pizza. When you dissect what it is you love about it, you may find you love the crispy outside of the base and fluffy but slightly doughy middle. You love the rich creaminess of the cheese and the way it complements the sweet, yet tangy flavour of the tomato sauce. Making a pizza with a cauliflower base instead of bread, and creamed cashews instead of mozzarella simply isn’t going to cut it.
Because it doesn’t have the same flavours and textures that make you love pizza so much. Settling for this will just remind you of what you’re missing and make you resent your healthy lifestyle more. Why not allow yourself an actual pizza once in a while rather than cutting it out in totality. You’ll find you’ll be less resentful of eating healthily if you balance it with a less than healthy treat every so often.
Don’t overhaul everything in one go
Perhaps you eat too much red meat, drink too much alcohol, eat way too much sugar and can’t stay away from processed snacks. Trying to get rid of all of these things in one fell swoop will most likely make you feel miserable because the change is too extreme. Instead, take it 3 weeks at a time. They say it takes 21 days to make and break a habit, so focus on 1 dietary change per 21 days. Once you’ve gotten used to life with the first change, you can then move onto the next and spend another 3 weeks on that.
Indulge your cravings instead of fighting them
When you change your diet, your intake of specific nutrients changes. As a result of this, you may find you have really strong cravings for certain foods you’ve cut out. If this happens, don’t fight it, instead pay attention to what you’re craving so you get the nutrients your body is crying out for.
If you’re craving something sweet, don’t drink a glass of water and tell your stomach to ‘shut up’, instead, go and have something naturally sweet like fruit – you may just have low blood sugar (chromium and magnesium deficiencies can also cause sugar cravings, so consider supplementing with these). If you’re craving something savoury, eating a few nuts, olives or cubes of cheese will do much more for satisfying your craving than chewing a piece of gum.
By doing this, you’ll stop thinking of healthy eating as synonymous with deprivation.