Intuitive Eating, Videos

How to Get Yourself to Crave Vegetables (and how I went from hating veggies to loving them)

For most of my life, I HATED vegetables. But over the last few years, I’ve turned into a vegetable enthusiast. I often even enjoy them raw with nothing on them. (I can be seen biting into a plain beet or cauliflower, and even having plain arugula, on a regular basis…)

In today’s video, I go over how I went from hating to loving vegetables, and how you can too! Featuring the results of scientific studies (citations below).

Here’s a link to the video page, or you can watch it below:

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As a kid, I HATED vegetables. My parents wouldn’t let me leave the dinner table until I finished my meals, and I often opted to sit for hours rather than eat my salad.

I only started eating vegetables in my undergrad years out of desperate attempts to lose weight, and even then I still didn’t actually like them. They felt more like a punishment.

I started to somewhat enjoy them about 6 years ago when I started eating a high carb low fat diet, and noticed that some foods (like sushi bowls) just happened to taste better with vegetables. And then ~5 years ago I magically started to find salads somewhat enjoyable rather than boring torture. (It also helped that I learned how to make vegetables more exciting with better recipes!)

And then, about 2 years ago, I started completely focusing on intuitive eating instead of following any diet. I stopped caring about weight loss, and started caring about having a healthy relationship with food. I just ate whatever I craved, whenever I wanted to.

And inexplicably, a huge chunk of the time, what I naturally craved was (and is)… VEGETABLES!

Now that I was fully eating according to my cravings, I could see just how much I craved healthy food. And I noticed I naturally stopped liking sugary or hyperpalatable things as much.

Now I can down this entire jar of my pickled veggies in a couple of days…

So how did I have such a dramatic shift in tastes?

Based on all the studies I’ve read on diet science, I have a feeling that it was because of gut bacteria.

First, we know that what we eat changes our gut microbiome, by changing the types and relative quantities of different types of bacteria. And those bacteria do a lot of our digesting for us. For example, studies show that eating more plants changes our gut microbiome to have more plant-digesting bacteria, which then makes us more efficient at digesting plants1.

Second, there is evidence that our gut microbiome can actually influence what we crave2, and even how much we eat3.

So what we end up with is a feedback loop where eating more vegetables changes your gut microbiome to have more veggie-loving bacteria, and those bacteria then make you crave more vegetables.

On the flip side, it can also be a vicious cycle, depending on the food: if you eat a lot of processed food, you get a gut full of processed-food-loving bacteria, which then makes you crave more of it.

The key is to get yourself into the cycle you WANT to be in. And to get into a vegetable-craving cycle, the first step is to just eat more vegetables. (A mix of both raw and cooked, ideally!)

I suggest doing this in the most palatable ways you can manage so that you’re not having to force yourself to eat them. You don’t want to associate vegetables with torture. For example, you can try hiding vegetables in other foods: add spinach to your smoothies, riced cauliflower to your normal rice, and greens in your chili. (If you want to get extra creative, you can add pureed mushrooms to soups, chilis, pasta, etc… that’s how I get my husband to eat them, since he hates their texture!) I have more suggestions in the video too.

And at some point, I bet you’ll naturally find yourself naturally liking vegetables even without having to hide or disguise them.

(Another tip: if you fall in love with vegetable gardening as much as I have, you’ll discover that vegetables are actually pretty magical 😛 )

Recipes

Quick Pickled Carrots and Red Onions Recipe

One of the biggest silver linings of quarantine for me has been discovering the wonder of making your own quick-pickled veggies. I am officially a pickle addict!

My new pickling habit has led to a massive, accidental increase in my veggie consumption. I find myself craving them all the time because they make a perfect snack or side for lunch, and the onions make a perfect topping for avocado toast.

Unlike canned pickles which require a canner and exact proportions, making quick pickles is super easy and flexible–you just stick them in your fridge and wait a few hours. I have been making these almost every week, and I usually eat half of them within the first day. They’re just too good!

You can also sub out pretty much any veggie you want, because the pickling broth is really versatile. I’ve tried adding cauliflower and red cabbage and loved it. You could also do cucumbers, jalapeños, green beans–just about anything!

Ingredients:

  • 5 large carrots, chopped into discs*
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 4 cloves sliced garlic
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill (optional)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)

* You can, of course, use any shape you want for the veggies!

Directions:

  1. Combine the vinegar, water, garlic and spices (so, everything but the veggies) in a pot over medium heat. Bring it to a boil, then remove it from heat. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  2. Layer your chopped veggies into a jar. I suggest using a jar with a plastic lid, because the vinegar makes metal lids rust quickly. (You could also put clingwrap over the jar before putting the metal lid on)
  3. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the veggies. The liquid should be able to cover all the veggies–if there isn’t enough to submerge all of the veggies, remove some of them. Put the lid on, turn it over a few times to distribute the spices, and then store in the fridge.
  4. Wait 8+ hours, then enjoy! Keep them stored in the fridge and use them up within a few weeks–it shouldn’t be difficult to 🙂

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