Someone who wasn’t repeatedly exposed to vegetables growing up may not have had the opportunity to learn to enjoy them. If a person was labeled a “picky” eater (like me), they may have formed this idea in their head that they won’t like any new foods that they try. There’s also the mentality that if you tried something once, that’s enough. Or, that you’d never like a certain texture. Well, I’m here, along with over 20 dietitians to prove those things wrong, and to share tips on how to start liking vegetables!
How To Start Liking Vegetables
I talk about intuitive eating a lot on here and Instagram, and for some people who have not yet explored it in more detail, it can be confusing. Intuitive eating (IE) is essentially unlearning diet behaviors and poor eating habits built throughout life, so that we can get back to listening to our body. We were born with the ability to self-regulate, knowing when to eat, and how much to eat, and to an extent even what. Nutrition of course matters, but some people unfortunately report IE to be the “eat whatever you want diet”.
This perception unfortunately leads people to believe if they remove food rules from the equation, that they’ll just eat “fun” foods and not ones that are nutrient dense. Or, they criticize IE saying that people who don’t eat enough nutritious foods will continue to not eat them. I also have students who can’t wrap their brain around liking a single vegetable and when they learn about nutrition, really want to know how to start liking vegetables. Remember as I mentioned above, tapping into your real intuition and really listening to your body means unlearning behaviors and thoughts, with health in mind.
Everyone is on their own health journey. And while I don’t expect everyone to like every food (ex: I will never like olives), I do encourage everyone to try new things… multiple times… before knocking them. I mentioned I grew up a selective eater. I didn’t even try fish (other than that one time my Grandmother tricked me into thinking it was a breaded chicken cutlet) until college! I now enjoy it a couple of times a week.
To anyone who thinks they hate all the veggies, or just wants to expand their selection, these 20 tips and recipes are for you!
Intuitive Eating Tips For Learning To Like Vegetables
“Keep trying them! Just like we say with babies – it can take 15-20 or more exposures to a new food before a baby accepts it – I’d say the same thing goes for adults. Try them prepared in different ways, paired with different foods and go in with a good attitude about it.”
–Brittany Poulson, MDA, RDN, CDE
“When people think of vegetables they often think of boiled green beans or simple salads without any dressing. I encourage my clients to explore vegetables prepared in different ways that piques their interest. Many times, our preferences come from our childhood experiences and we haven’t given vegetables another chance on our terms without any preconceived notions from diet culture. Stay curious and explore the variety of colors and preparations with flavors that you enjoy. If you’d like to learn how to make a satisfying salad check out these 3 Steps!
Samina Qureshi RDN LD Wholesome Start Nutrition Counseling
“My best advice is to remove any “shoulds” from liking vegetables–meaning that you remember that you don’t HAVE to like any particular vegetable (or fruit), just because you’re under the impression that you need to like/eat it to be “healthy”. I think it’s so powerful (as in many other aspects of IE) to give self permission to dislike a certain vegetable or fruit, while still allowing space for the possibility that there might be another one you like more (or even a different preparation of that same veggie/fruit that jives with you a little better). Removing the SHOULDS in all senses is a powerful exercise!”
“Give people permission to not like vegetables. Sometimes receiving this permission is all it takes. Then I recommend exploring which foods you do like. Since most cuisines in the world provide delicious ways to use vegetables in their dishes, sometimes people end up realizing that they actually do enjoy some meals that contain vegetables. Next, identify what you like about those dishes; the textures, flavors, temperatures, and the appearance of those meals – and go from there. Eventually, this can lead to finding additional ways to prepare vegetables, and fabulous ways to add them to tacos, soups, casseroles, etc.”
Cultivate Joy Nutrition
“It’s been empowering for me to reclaim my love of veggies by reminding myself that diets don’t get to “claim” the veggies or the salads. I didn’t think I liked salads when I first started rejecting diet culture, but it’s because I always fixated on the healthfulness aspect and didn’t find them satisfying. Now, I’m all about #saladsthatdontsuck and I pile on grains, protein, legumes, cheese, nuts, and whatever else it takes to make them filling and satisfying. I recommend this strategy to clients or friends struggling with the concept of disliking salads and remind them that their “new” version of a veggie-packed salad doesn’t have to look the same as what they ate when they were actively dieting, and not enjoying food.”
@streetsmart.rd or www.streetsmartnutrition.com
General Tips For Enjoying Vegetables
“I always say to eat veggies the way they prefer them!! If they hate raw then have cooked, or visa versa. Roasting on a sheet pan with olive oil, garlic, & lemon brings out a lot of flavor and works well for most veggies.”
Melissa Mitri, MS, RD
“Print out a list of vegetables and commit to trying ONE NEW vegetable a week. You don’t have to commit to eating a full serving or commit to eating it every day, but you need to at least try it. This works great with kids as a way of getting them involved and giving them the power to choose what they eat.”
The Well Crafted Life
“I find that many individuals who say they don’t like veggies don’t like raw veggies or plain veggies or mushy veggies… and all of that is okay. In fact it is normal that you don’t like certain preparations of vegetables! What I encourage is trying veggies prepared different ways because each way brings a different flavor and taste and texture and experience-whether that’s in a soup, roasted or sautéed when you’ve only steamed before, or dipping them in a nut butter, ranch, or cheese.”
@wholehearteddietitian and www.wholeheartednutrition.org
“Fruits and vegetables are highly variable in flavor. So, you have to be more patient with vegetables than other food groups. Try them over and over because they always taste a little different. Don’t force yourself to eat ones that continue to not taste good after a bunch of tries. You won’t buy or try vegetables if you feel like you have to eat them when they are unpleasant. Also, try new vegetables at restaurants where they are likely to be prepared in a tasty way.”
Jaimie Winkler, dietitian
“There are SO many different vegetables out there, so don’t give up if you don’t like some! I like to try new veggies roasted with olive oil and some light seasoning. I also recommend trying a new food a few times before deciding that you don’t like it— you might be surprised!”
Kyla Kurczewski, RDN, CPT, @keepyourlifealive.rd
“Often times to learn to be willing to try new foods, we need to take the pressure off. We tend to buy too many new items too soon. How about we start with one item once per week, that’s it? Or try a vegetable in something we already like, such as an omelet or quesadilla? For more ideas to take it slow to get some where, check out this video “ how I learned to start liking vegetables again by not forcing myself to eat them”
Registered Dietitian Tracey Brown
“When I talk with clients I encourage them to being willing to try new things prepared in a new way. There is no way for people to have tried every vegetable prepared in every possible way. Different day, different way. Some people like it raw, some like it roasted. If the goal is to just experiment people don’t feel like it they failed when they don’t like something.”
Zach Cordell, MS, RDN
Creative Vegetable Recipes
“Puree them & add them into sauces – try this Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese”
Eat Like Jean
Starting with dishes you already love is a great way to start liking vegetables. Try mixing spaghetti squash with regular pasta – it’s one of the few vegetables I ate regularly while nauseous my entire pregnancy! Try this spaghetti squash bolognese.
“Try adding vegetables to foods you already like. You could add a small amount of lettuce to your favorite sandwich, add shredded carrot to your pancake batter, or shredded zucchini to your meatloaf. ”
The Crowded Table
“Chop ‘em up & toss them with fruit, seeds, & other yummy things! Even my non-veggie loving mom likes this Super Duper Raw Power Salad w/ kale, apples, dried blueberries, edamame, & sunflower seeds”
“Remake your favorite flavors and recipes with a veggie focus like my “portobello pizza”, pizza ingredients inside a portobello mushroom.”
“Mix them in with other favorite foods, such as meat sauce for pasta.”
“Switch up your salad – move beyond Romaine and try other lettuce varieties in your salads, including arugula, baby spinach, and mesclun greens, and then build from there! Try this Arugula, Apple, and Brussels Sprouts Salad .”
Liz’s Healthy Table
“I suggest adding veggies to foods my clients already love – like muffins! It’s not to hide the veggies, but to expose your taste buds to these flavors, in hopes to eventually like the taste after repeated exposure.”
Chelsey Amer Nutrition
What foods did you used to dislike but love now? Any recipes that helped along the way? Share in the comments!