Sunday, August 18, 2013

Confessions of a Veggie Hater

Photo by: Sadik Khalid and released to the Public Domain (via Wikimedia Commons)

One of the reasons "dieting" can be difficult for me is that most healthy meals found in dieting books are chock-full of veggies. I have never enjoyed vegetables. If anybody ever put a scoop of something like the above broccoli and carrots on my plate, I'd have to fight my revulsion (though I'm sure it's a perfectly lovely dish for folks who enjoy that kind of thing). When I was a kid, I'd fall asleep at the kitchen table when my mom tried the "you aren't leaving the table until you eat your veggies" trick. I'd still rather spend the entire evening sitting at the table than force myself to eat most veggies. Yes, I know vegetables are extremely healthy, and I know that taking vitamin pills just isn't the same as getting nutrients from real food sources. I WANT to like veggies. However, the taste and smell of most vegetables literally makes me feel nauseous.

I've often heard thing like, "There have to be some vegetables that you like! There's no way you can hate all of them." or "Your mom probably didn't cook them right when you were growing up. Try them prepared different ways." Well, I've tried several kinds, and I've tried them prepared many different ways. I almost always end up unable to force myself to swallow - as gross as it is, I end up gagging and spitting them out. I have found I can force myself to eat a little bit of raw baby spinach or asparagus, but I can only eat a small amount before my taste buds say, "Okay, enough!" I've also heard the tip to chop up vegetables and add them to meals I already really like, and I've tried that, but I can taste the vegetables, which ruins the flavor of the rest of the food for me.

I do like most fruit, however, so I try to eat at least a couple of fruit servings every day (though I sometimes run out of my supply and need to go a day or two without). I also discovered "Amazing Grass Green Superfood," which is basically dehydrated and powdered wheatgrass and other vegetables, so I add a scoop of that to my smoothies and protein shakes. The chocolate in the protein powder and the fruit in the smoothies masks the flavor pretty well. I know it's not as beneficial as fresh stuff, but at least it's something. Now that I'm in my 40s, I have to try to get at least some vegetable in me any way possible. I can also manage the V8 Fruit Fusion stuff, but don't ask me to drink a plain V8! Blech! I've also recently found that I can add a very small handful of greens to my blended smoothies and consume them that way. Still, I know I'm probably not getting enough.

I'm sometimes made to feel like something is wrong with me due to this. That's it's all in my head. Well, it very well may be in my head, but in my mouth rather than my brain. I recently found out that there's an actual biological basis for veggie aversion. Some people simply have more taste buds than the average person, and therefore taste things more strongly. These people are called "supertasters," and the bitter compounds in veggies are often overwhelming to them.

I'm not completely sure I'm a full-blown supertaster, however, since it seems that most avoid things like coffee and sweets as well. I can't get by without my morning cup of coffee (though I only like mild or medium roast coffee - I can't do the "robust" stuff), and my enjoyment of sweets is one of the reasons I'm trying to lose weight! Still, I definitely taste the bitterness in veggies, and strongly. I know that people often say iceberg lettuce doesn't have a taste, well, I taste it (and I don't like it). At the very least, thanks to a taste experiment in biology class, I know I'm sensitive to PROP, which is a chemical similar to the stuff that makes veggies bitter.

Anyway, I'm still trying to find some milder veggies that I may be able to tolerate. If anybody reading this has any suggestions, please feel free to let me know!

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