Why Vegetables Taste Gross (To Some People)

VegetablesWritten By Becki Andrus

One of the biggest excuses that people make, is that they don’t eat their vegetables because they don’t like how veggies taste. How is it possible to eat healthy if the taste of healthy foods makes you gag?!?

I used to dislike the taste of vegetables too. In my “former life” of unhealthy eating, I would occasionally eat vegetables because I knew that I was supposed to… but my veggies usually consisted of a very small serving of iceberg lettuce SOAKED in ranch dressing, or tomato sauce on my pasta. My idea of good veggies were vegetables that I couldn’t taste because they were hidden by other tastes in the dish.

Can you relate?

As I started to learn more about health I began to understand how important it was to eat more raw fruits and vegetables, but my logical understanding about health did not change my taste buds (unfortunately, LOL!).

So, I found myself in this place of logically WANTING to eat more vegetables (because I knew they were healthy), but dreading mealtimes because I HATED the taste of the vegetables.

As I look back on the situation, I can see that there were several factors in play, and these are the reasons that vegetables taste gross to so many people:

1. Our Taste Buds Have Acclimated To High Fat/Sugar/Salt Foods
When we eat highly processed foods that are full of unhealthy fats, chemicals, sodium, and sugars our taste buds are completely overloaded with sensation. These types of foods are designed to be addictive, the tastes are so strong that our bodies actually adjust to the higher levels of unhealthy ingredients.

Simply put: Your body learns to love the unhealthy ingredients, because they provide a higher amount of pleasure (through the taste buds), calories, and fats. All of these things tie back to the innate sense to survive and thrive in a harsh world.

2. On The Flip Side: Whole Foods Are Lacking In The Addictive Ingredients
Because of the fact that vegetables and fruits don’t have the added ingredients listed above, they will taste bland when you compare them to the processed food alternatives. Many people choose to eat processed foods instead of vegetables because of the taste alone.

If you compare the taste of asparagus side-by-side with potato chips, obviously the chips with have more flavor and sensation.

When your body is acclimated/addicted to eating highly processed foods that are designed to have strong tastes, why would you choose to eat bland (in comparison) vegetables if you are basing the decision strictly on taste alone?

3. Addictions Win (Over Logic)
Many people are ashamed to admit that they have food addictions, but addictions are a very real problem for many people. I personally have experienced food addictions… sugary treats are very addictive to me. Have you ever experienced strong cravings for a certain type of unhealthy food, and then eventually found yourself giving into the cravings because you can’t think about anything else?

The preservatives, chemicals, MSG, sugar, salt, etc. are all ingredients that are added into processed foods and these ingredients can be very addicting! If your body is going through withdrawals, you will be more likely to reach for the “food” that satisfies those needs instead of munching on something that doesn’t contain the addictive ingredients.

4. Sheer Numbers: There Are More Unhealthy Foods Available
If you take a look at the grocery store, you will see that there are many more products available that are unhealthy. These foods have been highly processed, stuffed full of artificial/unhealthy ingredients, and packaged in pretty boxes that make you want to buy them.

The retail space in the grocery store definitely favors the unhealthy foods… there are thousands of products in the aisles that are low-nutrient, calorie dense foods that will damage your health. When you are eating these foods all day, every day your body adjusts and learns to love them.

By eating these unhealthy foods every day (at home, at work, at school, at parties, etc), you are actually training yourself to focus your eating around unhealthy items instead of nutritious, life-giving foods.

It can be (understandably) hard to say “no” to those items when you are advertised/offered the unhealthy foods every day. Take some time tomorrow to sit back and observe how many times you are faced with processed foods everyday: advertisements (billboards, commercials, etc), free food (at work, school), fast food establishments (as you drive by), etc.

Just moving about your daily life results in you being bombarded by unhealthy food everywhere you go. In comparison, how many times do you passively encounter healthy foods as you move through the day?

Are you reacting to the food temptations, or being proactive about your food choices?

I have found that it is necessary for me to actively turn my focus to healthy foods in order to avoid getting caught up in the unhealthy options. If you are hungry and driving home from work, it is a lot easier to passively let your mind wander on the picture of the fast food meal on the billboard instead of dreaming about the fruits and vegetables at home in the fridge– But, with practice, over time you can focus on healthy eating if you keep your thinking in check & work to create a healthier lifestyle.

Tomorrow I will be blogging about how to overcome the “icky” vegetable tastes in order to include more healthy ingredients in your cooking. I will be talking about a few steps that you can take in order to turn your focus away from junk food, break the addictions, and get excited about eating more healthy foods.

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Photo credit: Martin Cathrae
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