Ever find yourself envying the people who always seem to be eating healthy? You go out for lunch with them and what do they order? A salad, a low-calorie entree, and water—every time. And there you are with your hamburger loaded with bacon, cheese, and mayonnaise; French fries; and a large soda. Why can’t you resist temptation and choose what you know is good for you? It takes a little work and dedication, but you can learn to desire what’s healthy.
Remember—it’s okay to indulge every once in a while, but here are a few ways you can make healthy eating your go-to choice at least most of the time.
Retrain Taste Buds
You may hate the taste of vegetables, but you can train yourself to like them. Studies show the more times you’re exposed to a certain taste, the more likely you are to like it. This is one reason it’s important to repeatedly feed a toddler vegetables. He may not prefer them at first, but he will become fonder the more he tries them. It takes about 9 or 10 tries for a child to change his perception of the food, so the same trick should work for you. Every day, plan to eat at least a bite or two of a vegetable you don’t care for.
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. – Lao Tzu
Add Some Flavor
Broccoli without salt or lettuce without dressing can be hard to swallow for anyone. Sprinkle on some spices, cheese, garlic, or even a few bacon bits on unpleasant dishes and add a few tablespoons of a yummy oil- or vinegar-based dressing to your salad and the healthy stuff will no doubt start to taste better.
Hide the Foods
Combine the foods you like with those you don’t and it’ll help mask the unpleasant flavor. Add vegetables to pastas, soups, muffins, or smoothies. Try new recipes. Sometimes all it takes is the right combination of foods and you’ll learn to appreciate new tastes.
Make Gradual Changes
You may have good intentions to go sugar-free, fat-free, or sodium-free. But making the change overnight isn’t easy, and it probably won’t last long. First of all, your body needs a certain amount of healthy fats and sodium to function. Secondly, when your cravings kick in you’re likely to give up all efforts at being healthy. A better approach is to slowly reduce the junk in your diet and replace it with healthier options. This way, you can still enjoy soda, chips, and sweets, but just not as often.
Notice How You Feel
If your go-to breakfast is a sausage biscuit, your snacks come from the vending machine, and lunch and dinner are either fast food or frozen meals, there’s a good chance you deal with weight control issues, health problems, a lack of energy, and trouble concentrating. Take a few days and really try to eat healthily. Choose oatmeal or eggs for breakfast, fruit and nuts for snacks, and lean protein and vegetables for lunch and dinner. Then take note of how you feel. Most likely you’ll feel energized, see some pounds come off, and have a new zest for life and healthy eating.
The idea that knowledge is power can be applied to your diet. If you really knew what was in the junk food you eat and what it’s doing to your body, you may change the way you eat. People who eat poorly often don’t realize the short-term and longer-term harm they’re doing to their health. Sometimes all it takes is knowledge to motivate them to make healthy changes to the way they eat.