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I Don't Like Any Vegetables! What Should I Do? How to Eat Vegetables When You Hate Them

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

"I want to eat healthier, but I don't like any vegetable." This dilemma is frequently brought to my by patients who want to make lifestyle changes, but feel it is impossible due to their taste preferences. How to eat vegetables when you feel that you hate them can make good nutrition seem impossible. There are numerous ways to approach this dilemma. If this is your concern, some of these strategies might work for you.

boy eating a salad with lettuce and tomatoes

Openness and Willingness

Sometimes the "I don't like any vegetables" has a resolute undertone, and other times it seems to be said out of frustration. Here is where you can think about if you want to like more vegetables, or if you are very firm in that you are certain you dislike them. If you desire to like vegetables, it certainly is possible to develop a taste for them. Instead of wondering how to eat vegetables when you hate them, you can develop the ability to eat vegetables and like them.

Being open to new experiences and willing to try new things is a skill that can improve with practice. Think of a vegetable that you have not had in years or a vegetable preparation method you never tried. See if you can approach that vegetable with an open mind. Put aside those prior opinions about it, and see if you can approach it as if you never had opinions about it before. This can give you the opportunity to experience the flavor, scent, and texture fully from a neutral place.

While you might not love the vegetable, you may find it "OK" or tolerable with this method. That is enough to keep it on your list of things to try again. Many people find that with repeated exposure, they develop an appreciation for new foods.

Are There Really No Vegetables That You Like? Start With What Already Works for You

Often, when I challenge a patient with this question, they are able to come up with some vegetables that they do like. They realize they don't have to just figure out how to eat vegetables when they hate them. Sometimes these are vegetables that have barriers to eating them, such as a vegetable dish they had at a restaurant, a vegetable that requires a lot of time to prepare, or a vegetable that is out of season. Other times, these are vegetables that they did not think "count" as a vegetable, such as baby carrots with a dip, vegetable soup, or the peppers in pepper steak.

Once you have a few vegetables that you do like, the challenge is to get them on your plate. Maybe find a copycat recipe for that restaurant dish, dedicate time on a weekend to prepare time consuming dishes, or buy a frozen version of an out of season vegetable. And the vegetables in dishes you didn't think of--well, add those foods into meals more often.

Get Some Vegetable Inspiration

What if you really can't think of any vegetables that you like? Are you doomed to have to manage to eat vegetables when you hate them? There are a few things you can do to help you develop a list of vegetables you actually like.

Follow Your Senses to New Vegetables

If you are really struggling to think of vegetables you like, I recommend following your senses. You can look at pictures of dishes in cookbooks and watch cooking shows to find vegetable dishes that look visually enticing. Check out vegetable dishes in your supermarket's takeout or look at what others have ordered the next table over at a restaurant. You may notice vegetable dishes that look and smell good. These foods are a good place to start. If you don't think you can prepare dishes that look as good as the cookbook pictures or restaurant dishes, then start with vegetables prepared by others. The goal is to eat vegetables, not necessarily prepare them. That can come later if you are interested.

Be Creative With Vegetable Preparation Methods

When you think of vegetables, you might be thinking of a very narrow view on what vegetable dishes are. Broccoli is not just the frozen stuff boiled until it is mushy and slightly grey. It can also be bright green, with a bite, and part of a stir fry. It can be marinated in an lemony vinaigrette. It can be slowly roasted until the natural sweetness becomes apparent and the edges begin to brown and sizzle. It can be pureed into a savory soup. It can be raw, dipped in dressing. It can be steamed and sprinkled with chopped, salted almonds. And this is just a start with just one vegetable.

Also consider the flavor of the vegetable and the flavor that you can add to enhance a vegetable. Start with vegetables that have a more mild taste, such as iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, and zucchini before moving on to vegetables with a stronger flavor, such as broccoli, turnip, and Brussels sprouts. There are so many ways you can flavor your vegetables--don't get stuck on the usual methods you see. You can go acidic with lemon, lime, or vinegar. Salty condiments such as some salad dressings, soy sauce, or parmesan may work for you. Or go with spices you have never tried before! This will be different for everyone, but some good ones to start with are cumin, sumac, and za'atar. Another good option is to use a premade spice combo such as Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute, Old Bay Seasoning, of the fan favorite Everything Bagel Seasoning.

How to Eat Vegetables When You Hate Them

Eating, even eating nutritious food, is never meant to be a punishment or an unpleasant endeavor. If it is not an enjoyable experience for you now, with real effort and work, it can become enjoyable. The ultimate goal is to expand your array of potential pleasurable food experiences, not eat food that you hate. You should not have to figure out how to eat vegetables when you hate them. If you are really struggling with eating more vegetables, try some of these ideas, and reach out to a dietitian for more help.

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