How Can I Train Myself to Like Healthier Foods? I’ve Never Been a Huge Veggie or Fish Fan, But I Know my Body Would Benefit From Them.
AWhat makes us choose one food over another can stem from a variety of reasons, including prior experience, misconceptions like cost, time and effort, to what ignites our senses. (Does it look, smell, feel and taste appealing?) You’re right to realize that over time, a diet low in vegetables and lean protein, like fish, can put you at risk for deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals. But you’re in luck: Research has shown that it is possible to retrain your brain.
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Making the conscious decision to add these foods into your diet is the first step. Exposure is important, and like with a picky toddler, it may take 10, even 20 times before you develop a taste for a new food. It may be as simple as experimenting with different cooking methods to find what works for you.
Steaming is a low-cal option, but may taste bland and boring. Instead of the usual salt and pepper, add a squeeze of lemon juice to add zest and help decrease your sodium intake. Herbs and spices like rosemary, thyme, cinnamon or cumin are also great ways to enhance flavor and boost nutritional value, too. Sauteing or roasting greens, like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach or kale, in heart-healthy olive oil and garlic can cut down the bitterness and make them more palatable. Steer clear of unhealthy methods
like frying, or using cream sauces, which only defeat the purpose by increasing fat and calories.
Get creative by pureeing veggies and sneaking them into your morning smoothie, soups and stews. Watching your carb intake? Vegetables like cauliflower, zucchini and squash are so versatile they can be used as a low-carb yet highly nutritious substitute in your favorite dishes without making you feel like you’re missing out. Mashed cauliflower or zoodles and turkey meatballs, anyone?
Including fish in your diet one to two times a week is all you need to reap the rewards of this heart-healthy, low- calorie brain food. As a starting point, bake, grill, broil or poach a mild fish such as wild salmon, and you’ll benefit with a dose of omega-3s and vitamin D. And white flaky fish high in B vitamins and essential minerals, like red snapper, halibut or cod, can easily soak up the flavor of your favorite salsa or marinade.
Watch cooking shows or browse the internet for healthy and interesting recipe ideas. Change takes time, so try tackling one new food a week. You’re not going to love everything and that’s okay, but the long-term reward of including a variety of foods in your diet can benefit you for a lifetime.
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