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  • Writer's pictureTalia Cooper

But what if I don't like vegetables

The basics of intuitive eating: listen to your body’s requests around food and release external rules (especially those imposed for the sake of thinness).

I’ve had some clients tell me that they’ve always hated vegetables and they’re sure they’ll never crave vegetables ever again (which is why they believe they have to force themselves to eat their greens). My follow up questions:

  • Under what conditions have you eaten vegetables in the past?

  • When you think of vegetables, what do you think of?

  • How do you prepare vegetables?

Usually a few things become apparent:

  • Vegetables were always something they felt forced to eat in order to feel healthy (or to be allowed dessert)

  • There is often a narrow view of vegetables: broccoli, spinach, brussels sprouts. People don’t always remember that onions, pickles, avocados, and carrots are also vegetables.

  • An excessive focus on “health” has led to steamed, under seasoned veggies. Or salad without enough dressing. People forget that you can eat fried artichokes, or green beans sautéed with garlic, or corn fresh from the cob, or squash with butter and maple syrup.

Image: asparagus stand tall and proud.

(It should be noted that the author herself is not tall, but is also proud sometimes).

A short story: when I was a kid my dad took us to a brussels sprout patch. My brother and I each got to pick a stalk to take in the car. We pulled the little bulbs off the stalks and popped them in our mouths. Fresh from the ground they were a little bitter but also crunchy and satisfying. Then we played with the stalks like swords. We were later shocked to discover other kids hated them.

When vegetables are forced (whether by yourself or a parent), some part of us is being denied agency. Agency=a core human need. When we get to have positive experiences with vegetables, we tend to like them more.

And also: you don’t have to like every vegetable to be healthy.

When talking about intuitive eating and health, I often encourage my clients to focus on what they can eat more of, instead of our cultural obsession with eliminating foods.

So if you are interested in eating more vegetables, pick the ones you really like and then learn a delicious and satisfying way to make them. There’s no need to choke down veggies you don’t enjoy– that’ll only set you up with negative experiences.

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