Make the Veggie Taste Transition: How to Crave Healthy Foods

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tips to transition to veggie diet

Are you craving what’s best for you?

Listen to this Green Divas Foodie Philes podcast—I talk about easy ways to transition to a more veggie-based diet. Then read on for more how-to details (part one in the series).

One of the challenges of making a diet change can be taste.

If your food appetite is a taste for unhealthy foods, maybe it’s time to rethink.

Food cravings that don’t help.

Taste is wired into complex brain cravings related to culture, habit and psychological state of mind.

A Tufts University study recently noted that the “most commonly craved foods were salty snacks, such as chips and French fries, or sweets that were high in sugar and fat, such as chocolate.” Across the board, the most common craving was high-calorie fare.

Sometimes these cravings are due to the body seeking out comfort. If you’re under stress, your body might crave carbohydrates to boost serotonin levels. And a University of California at San Francisco study found that comfort foods with lots of sugar and fat tended to be eaten by people under stress as well. However, ironically, sugar and fat tend to be a contributor to abdominal fat thereby reducing the body’s ability to cope with stress. So, in the long run, all that sugar and fat works against you.

Certainly we need the nutrients from the greens and other veggies far more than the sodium or fat of junk foods. And a leaner body, especially when coupled with exercise, has multiple healthy benefits. So why don’t we crave Brussels sprouts?

Are you a conditioned overeater? 

Dr. David A. Kessler, author of The End of Overeating says that the more you eat foods high in fat, salt and sugar then the more your brain is chemically altered to crave those same foods. It’s a type of overstimulation-of-the-brain addiction that turns you into a conditioned overeater.

We’re surrounded by so many of these types of high-calorie, high-fat, high-sugar foods that it’s not too hard to succumb.

So what’s the solution? I get asked all the time on morning TV shows and radio shows “How can you eat better?” or “What’s your secret?” And there really is only one answer: education and old-fashioned discipline.

For me, it starts with what I buy. If I buy junk food, then my family will eat it. So, I have to be careful with what I bring home. I have a habit of going to the store with a shopping list under a self-imposed time crunch, so there’s very little there that will stop me on my mission to get in and get out as soon as possible. It prevents me from being a reactive shopper.

My family has also made the switch to a more veggie-and-fruit-centric diet. And it’s a path I recommend because of the multitude of health benefits, the positive approach, and the lifestyle focus. So, let’s start there.

Take the first steps in your veggie transition.

First, make a declaration of “I eat more vegetables and fruits at every meal.” Post it on the refrigerator, on your bathroom mirror, on your grocery list, and in your journal. When you’re starting out, it’s mind over matter. So, you need to make that definitive statement in a public and private way.

Another easy first step is to have your fruits and veggies on full display in pretty baskets or lovely ceramic plates on your kitchen counter or table. Fill up your refrigerator as well. The visual is a constant reminder of where is your focus.

Dr. Dana Simpler at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland says:

“One of the main ways that women can transition their family to more vegetables is simply to DO IT. Too often, women acquiesce to their family grumbling about meal choices. But, most mothers would not let their child skip homework because they don’t like doing homework, or not brush their teeth because ‘I don’t feel like it.’”

Simpler suggests, for example, having a bowl of mini carrots on the table or on each plate, to decidedly make it part of the meal. Look for greens that your family will eat. For example, says Simpler, “If your child, or husband, balks at vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, then stick with the better accepted vegetables such as frozen green peas, which usually taste sweet.”

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About the author / 

Green Diva Terra

Terra Wellington is a TV wellness and lifestyle contributor and an actress based in Los Angeles. She is the author of The Mom’s Guide to Growing Your Family Green. More at www.terrawellington.com and Twitter: @terrawellington.

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