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We need to talk about vegetables...

We normally see various ads and tv shows that depict children as turning up their noses at vegetables and their parents having to force them to sit at the dinner table until everything is eaten.

Holding the Playstation to ransom, or, the horror, their smartphone.

Therefore, because the media plays such a big role in the formulation of thoughts, ideas, and societal norms, it’s safe to say that many of us may see this as “just a phase” that people grow out of once they’re older and are clued up to how important it is to include the natural vitamins available in vegetables into every healthy diet.

But this isn’t really the case.

Some of us just don’t do vegetables, as ridiculous as it may sound.

Let me tell you my story briefly…

Up until last year I didn’t eat fruit or vegetables. And I’m 28 now.

I’m not even underplaying it. I would order burgers without any garnish or lettuce or anything, preferring to smother it in sauce, and I would always go for the side portion of chips rather than the salad.

To me, salad held no value and was a waste of time and money. And this attitude continued well out of my teenage years and into my young adulthood.

My mother, bless her, did at least try when I was younger but I broke down her resolve through my own brute stubbornness. The only time I ever remember eating a vegetable was gulping it down with a mouthful of Coke. And the taste of whatever vegetable it was still made me wince.

As the years progressed I just stopped. I mostly only ate meat and refined carbs and, for the most part, I didn’t even feel any side effects from not eating fruits or vegetables. I’m hardly ever ill, have bucketloads of energy, and feel good.

Then, around about this time last year, give or take a month, I took on a challenge at DNAFit. I’m always up for a challenge and use my innate stubbornness to overcome even the most daunting of obstacles because I hate not being able to do something. It was the same for when I ran my first half marathon when everyone told me that I wouldn’t be able to do it. The challenge was to go for a month being a vegetarian, and I wrote a blog about my experience last year as well.

What I discovered wasn’t a newfound health. I didn’t undergo a metamorphosis overnight and shed my skin, becoming a new person completely unrecognisable to the one that I was now, but I did discover something interesting during my journey.

Not every vegetable is for everyone. And I had most certainly been eating and avoiding the wrong ones. I discovered that I loved avocado, red peppers, spinach and so many other vegetables that I thought I would definitely not enjoy. Obviously, because of my aversion, there were some that I still couldn’t stomach, but in terms of personal preference there really is a vegetable for everyone.

Another thing that changed was that I became a better cook. There was no more of this frying up a hamburger and slapping it on a roll or grilling a steak and eating it with a side of chips. I set out to expand my food choices and experience food like I had never before. And that’s something that’s thankfully stuck.

Funnily enough, I’ve now completely cut red meat out of my diet going over a year, with a view to go meat free!

Think it’s safe to say that I’ve done a complete 360 and gone from a veggie hater to a veggie lover…

With that being said, a drastic change isn’t as easy for everyone else to achieve and, believe me, it was quite difficult at first, so here are a few tips and tricks for you to start including more vegetables in your diet:

·      Make your veggies look less like veggies

Perhaps you have some deep seated issues with vegetables from your past that you just can’t get past and that’s the reason why you can’t even look at them, let alone eat them. But the thing about vegetables is that you can consume them in a variety of ways. You can add them as toppings on pizza, eat them in soups, cut them into shapes, mash them and stuff them into patties. The opportunities are endless!

 

·      Cook with them and have fun

It’s rare that after cooking something and putting your time and effort into making a wrap, pasta, omelette, or bake that you don’t feel an urge to try it to see how it tastes. By cooking with vegetables and experimenting with flavours you’ll eventually find something that you enjoy and know what to avoid. Putting time and effort into creating food makes it more appetising and appealing and you’ll feel invigorated to try it out more.

 

·      Prepare vegetables differently

Did you know that vegetables taster different depending on how they’re cooked? Maybe the fact that they’re raw is turning you off, but how do you feel about steamed broccoli or roasted tomatoes? See, you don’t know. Vegetables can definitely be more palatable if you try them out differently and experience them in new ways. Stop being so stubborn and get versatile with vegetables. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

 

·      Put them into a smoothie

Smoothies are all the rage because you can get a whole lot of vitamins and minerals in one quick, straight shot. Also, you can add in ingredients that taste good to you to mask them flavours of tastes that you may not like as much. A smoothie is good gateway for every veggie hater because for every piece of kale and spinach that you add, you can add an equal amount of berries, nuts and chocolate whey protein powder that will ensure that you don’t even taste anything while getting all your daily greens.

 

·      Snack on veg

There are a whole host of tiny vegetable options that you can snack on absentmindedly instead of sitting down and eating an entire salad. They’re quick and easy to make and even easier to stomach. You can crunch on baby carrots or let strips of seaweed dissolve on your tongue. The same goes for dried fruit, believe me, there are also veggie options available. Your main goal is to start slow and then move up the ladder to where you find what you like and stick with it, then expand so you don’t get bored.

If you want to live a healthy lifestyle then vegetables are an essential part of maintaining it. These helpful suggestions are intended to mediate your gateway into a new era of healthy eating and not only reaching your goals, but going beyond what you thought was possible when you first started out.

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