Most adults know that vegetables are an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. Vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, and these essential nutrients can help people stay healthy and avoid many health problems. In fact, vegetables can help lower blood pressure while also helping lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other health conditions.
Yet, for one reason or another, nearly 25 percent of Americans avoid eating vegetables entirely. But can you still achieve the same health benefits if you don’t like vegetables? Believe it or not, there are ways you can still eat healthy even if you don’t like vegetables.
Add Some Flavor
Most of the time, it’s the taste of the vegetables themselves that turn people away. They don’t like the earthy or bitter flavors that many vegetables come with, and this doesn’t change whether the vegetables are cooked or raw. However, sometimes all it takes is a bit of added flavor to make those vegetables go down more smoothly.
According to registered dietician Sally Kuzemchak of WebMD, it’s okay to add salt, pepper, or butter to your vegetables if it helps make them more palatable. The addition of these more pleasing flavors doesn’t detract from the health benefits of eating vegetables, and unless you have an underlying medical condition that requires you to watch your sodium intake, a bit of salt or butter won’t harm your body. You can also try adding garlic, lemon, or cinnamon to help cut down on that bitter, earthy taste.
Furthermore, some people find that dips or sauces make vegetables taste better too, and using these items isn’t harmful to your health either. Many people like hummus, ranch dressing, and balsamic vinegar with their vegetables, and these flavors can often help mask the taste of the vegetables so people can tolerate them.
Depending on the vegetables and how you’re planning to prepare them, you can also try adding cheese into the mix. Many people love cheese on their broccoli or tossed into a salad, and the cheese can sometimes cover up the unpleasant flavor of the vegetables themselves. You can sprinkle on some shredded cheese or make a delicious cheese sauce.
Try a Different Preparation
If it’s not the flavor that makes vegetables impossible to eat, it might be the texture. Many people don’t like foods with certain textures, especially ones that are mushy or overly soft. Unfortunately, there are lots of vegetables that, depending on how you prepare them, become soft or even soggy when cooked.
If it’s the texture of the vegetables that’s really bothering you, then you may want to try preparing them a different way before throwing them out the window entirely. Some people find that they don’t like steamed vegetables, but do enjoy baked, grilled, or even raw ones. The great thing about vegetables is there are tons of ways to prepare them, and each one makes the vegetables taste a bit different and feel very different in our mouths.
If you’re not sure how to best prepare vegetables for dinner time, try one of these approaches:
Disguise the Vegetables
For some people, the sight or smell of certain vegetables simply repulses them. These people, whether they’re kids or even adults, avoid placing anything that even resembles a vegetable onto their plate during mealtime. Unfortunately, vegetables are one of the best sources of the majority of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to thrive, so they’re important.
Luckily, you can sometimes bypass the unpleasantries that come with all those “disgusting” vegetables with some sneaky recipes. In fact, the expert dieticians with MyFitnessPal say it’s not that hard to sneak vegetables into your favorite dishes—you just need to be willing to try.
Some easy meals to work vegetables into include smoothies, pasta sauces, and even ground beef. You can also add some nutrient-rich cauliflower into dishes like mac and cheese or mashed potatoes. The trick is to add vegetables that easily “blend in” with the rich flavors of the dish without overpowering it. These include spinach, cauliflower, carrots, and mushrooms.
Just remember to start small and add relatively flavorless vegetables into dishes that are filled with other tastes you enjoy. Over time, you may find that it’s easier to add vegetables into dishes without as much hesitation.
Look for Alternate Sources of Essential Vitamins
Vegetables provide essential vitamins and nutrients for our bodies. In fact, most vegetables are packed with vitamins A, C, and E. Many vegetables also contain needed nutrients like magnesium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and folic acid. If you just really can’t handle vegetables in any form, however, you should look for alternative sources for these vital minerals.
For example, milk, eggs, and liver all provide vitamin A, while fruits like strawberries and melon can provide lots of vitamin C. For minerals like potassium and magnesium, nuts make a filling snack. The trick is simply learning what naturally-occuring foods provide you with the same vitamins and minerals as vegetables and making sure you eat a varied diet that still contains lots of vitamin-rich foods.
In many cases, fruits, legumes, and nuts are some of the best sources of vitamins and nutrients outside of vegetables. Also, fish and other seafood can provide many vitamins and minerals for the body, and fish is much more beneficial than other forms of protein like beef or even chicken.
If you don’t eat many vegetables, you may feel tempted to use over-the-counter vitamins or supplements to increase your daily vitamin and mineral intake. However, Harvard Health says that many over-the-counter supplements aren’t as beneficial as people believe. Furthermore, since many over-the-counter supplements and multivitamins aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, there’s no guarantee that they are free of contaminants or genuinely contain the percentage of specific vitamins that they list on the label. For this reason, you should always consult your primary care physician before adding any additional medications or supplements to your daily routine.
You Can Eat Healthy Without Vegetables
Most of us know that vegetables are an essential part of a balanced diet, but that doesn’t mean that everyone likes how they taste. Luckily, there are lots of ways to disguise the way vegetables taste or prepare them so the texture isn’t as problematic. Furthermore, vegetables aren’t the only source of vitamins and other nutrients. So if you really don’t like vegetables, you can look for alternative sources of essential minerals.
The most important thing to remember when eating healthy is that you’re giving your body what it needs to function optimally. Be sure you follow recommended guidelines for a balanced diet and daily caloric intake, and never try a fad diet or meal plan without first consulting your primary care doctor or a registered dietitian.
Feeling inspired to give vegetables a chance? Growing them in your own backyard may be the encouragement you need to try them again. Learn how to grow your own vegetables by checking out these gardening blogs!
Megan Glosson is a mother and freelance writer based Nashville, Tennessee. She enjoys writing on a variety of parenting topics, but loves taking on anything with a personal connection to her own life. When she’s not writing, you can probably find Megan building Legos or playing board games with her two adorable daughters. To check out more of Megan’s work or to contact her about freelance opportunities, visit meganglosson.com