Top 6 Ways To Train Yourself To Like Healthy Foods
If you struggle to eat a healthy diet consistently, you might find that training yourself to do this, is like keeping a child at the table until they finish all their broccoli: it’s not easy if it feels like some kind punishment.
The human psyche is a funny thing. It's easy to get emotionally attached to certain habits and foods and the only way to make changes is to become more conscious of what you're doing and why you're doing it.
Even though fruits, vegetables, nuts, seed and grains may not be your natural first choice, there are ways you can train yourself to like healthier foods without feeling like you're missing out on the foods you love.
These six tips can help introduce more nutritious foods into your diet without feeling like you’re being forced to eat them. Within a few months, you’ll have a more well-rounded diet, fewer cravings, and a true love for healthier foods—no brainwashing required.
1. Keep the Flavour
A quick way to train yourself to like healthier foods is to keep the flavours you love in unhealthy food, but to prepare it yourself and change the composition of it.
For example, if you love pizza, create a healthier alternative. Hold the 'meat lovers' or fast food versions and go with a simple vegetarian option like a margarita made with fresh crushed tomatoes, garlic, herbs, organic cheese and a handful of fresh rocket leaves on top.
If you love chocolate, make yourself a raw cacao and banana smoothie instead of reaching for your favourite chocolate bar. Add some pieces of frozen banana into a blender with some fresh almond milk, two pitted medjool dates (for sweetness) and a table spoon of raw cacao powder, whiz it up and bingo!
By making these little shifts, you'll quickly find that you'll still satiate your taste buds with flavours that you've come to love, but gradually you'll ween yourself over to much healthier, more nutritious alternatives.
Got a sweet tooth? Include raw honey, maple syrup, medjool dates, cacao and dried fruit in your diet to satisfy those cravings.
Like fatty foods? Satiate yourself with raw nuts, avocados, cold-pressed oils like extra virgin olive and raw coconut oil.
Learn more in How to Curb Constant Hunger
2. Eat at Restaurants That Have Healthy Options
Many restaurants these days have plenty of 'healthier' options so that you can still enjoy dining out with friends or family and have a great meal.
The food at your favourite Italian or Greek restaurant can be just as fun and delicious when you make healthier, more conscious choices.
Start with a simple salad, choose tomato based sauces, look for healthy vegetarian options to start your meal, which you'll find will keep you satisfied and make you less inclined to go for your normal heavier choice.
Dining out should be enjoyable. The trick is to be a little more conscious about the choices you make until you realise that healthier options are just as delicious and you've formed better habits.
3. Plan Your Meals with Choices
The worst part about eating healthier foods is feeling like you have to.
People crave choice, and this is especially important when you’re trying to train yourself to like healthier foods. You want to feel like you've selected your meal because it's something you like to eat, rather than feeling like you're forced to eat it for health reasons.
Planning your meals a few days at a time can be really effective for making this mental switch. Dust off a recipe book you haven't look at for a while, or google 'healthy alternatives' for the foods you usually like to eat to gain some inspiration and then plan out a few easy-to-prepare meals.
4. Find A Healthy Choice You Love and Repeat
Familiarity is the key to train yourself to like healthier foods. So once you've found a recipe or two that you really love, why not make it part of your weekly meal routine.
You need repeat exposure before your body and taste buds will recognise these healthier foods and accept it as the new normal; you’re literally training yourself by eating them over and over again.
Eventually (cue 2-3 months) you’ll notice you don’t hate the food anymore and might even crave it! Plus, just because you hated a food when you were a kid doesn’t mean you still do; it could be that you’ve just never given it a proper chance after a bad experience as a child.
Kids are more sensitive to bitter foods and textures though, so if you clear your old feelings about the food from your mind, there’s a chance you’ll learn to really love it.
5. Prepare Food in a New Way
If eating vegetables with dinner to you means over steaming them or boiling them, then it’s no surprise that you’re not a fan.
Many of us grew up eating vegetables like this, and it’s a shame: they’re chock full of flavour, when cooked and dressed up the right way. If you’re struggling to incorporate a certain vegetable into your meals, try cooking it in a fresh, new way like sautéing, broiling, baking or grilling (a new recipe book can be exactly what you need).
Let yourself play with seasonings until you get exactly the right combination to make that vegetable an appealing dish. Add fresh herbs, lemon or lime juice, ground chilli flakes, add a little grass fed butter, or drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
These little additions can transform your side dish into something you crave. It’s amazing what you can do when you’re not limited to just salt and pepper! If salt is your go-to flavour booster, try these Nature-Made Salts for naturally harvested salts that are crucial to good health.
Learn more in Pour On the Olive Oil: 5 Ways It Keeps You Healthy
7. Change Your Thought Process
Often, it's not until we really open our eyes to the amazing array of colours of plant foods, that we begin to naturally gravitate to them every day.
A weekly trip to your local Farmer's Market on a Sunday can really help pave the way for healthier eating because of the abundance of beautiful colour that you can see.
However, if even that doesn't work, it's time to rationalise why a quality whole food rich diet is important to your health and longevity.
Think of your body as a machine that needs to be nourished with quality food in order for it to stay strong, perform at its best and help you thrive. Know that if you abuse your body with processed and refined foods throughout your life, chances are it will eventually cause you to pay the price down the road.
Understand that gut health is a vital key to your overall wellbeing and that just about every disease out there begins in the gut. This means, what you eat has a big impact to the quality of life you're going to live, particularly as you age.
Finally, know that you are worth it. You deserve to look and feel your best in this lifetime and food plays a vital role in impacting not just your physical state, but your emotions too.
Whatever it takes for you to make healthier choices, in the long run, is well worth doing.
Tolman Self Care.