Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Teach yourself to love (insert most hated healthy food here)!

Get healthier and closer to your weightloss goals by teaching yourself to love ANY food (in two weeks or less!)

Back in 2007, I was an exercise fiend and dieting fanatic. While my enthusiasm for this lifestyle was a bit extreme, my motivation was entirely healthy: I loved the challenge. So, at an astounding 8% body fat, I wanted to do better - be stronger, be leaner.

After learning to love oatmeal and egg whites!
For anyone who has endeavored to lose body fat, you know that the first few kilos are easy, it is the last few that are the hardest. Likewise, going from 8% body fat to my goal of 4% was my hardest challenge yet. Thus, after meeting with a colleague who specializes in nutrition for fitness competitors, I was put on a strict diet -- of all sorts of foods I hated. Among other things, on a daily basis I had to start eating plain oatmeal and egg whites - and with this breakfast of champions, I had to start drinking my coffee black - no soy milk, no Splenda.

Oatmeal: Loaded with antioxidants and fiber,
easy and quick to make, and great for weigh-loss.

The first two weeks were difficult - I was forcing down my food and didn't enjoy it at all. Five years later, oatmeal and egg whites are two of my favorite foods! Call me a simple girl, but when i'm hungry in the morning, nothing makes me more happy than a warm cup of oatmeal and some egg whites (with a bit of Mrs. Dash if you've got some!).

So what is my point? Can someone actually teach themselves to like foods that they've always hated?

Yup! To test this theory, last year I decided that I would see if I could teach myself to like mushrooms AND olives - two foods i've disliked (if not hated) since childhood. (And when I say "dislike", I mean that for 27 years, I would not even touch food that had shared a plate with any of these two things. I also avoided olive oil like the plague). I admit, it might have been a bit ambitious to try and learn to love two of my most hated foods, but again, I like a challenge.

The Mission: To learn to like olives and mushrooms.

Why? Olives provide a great source of omega-9 monounsaturated fat, excellent for weight control, energy, maintaining healthy blood pressure and lowering the risk of heart disease. This is not to mention that olives are rich in Vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D, Iron, and in particular, vitamin E - great for moisturizing skin, delaying the aging process, and promoting healthy nails and hair.

Mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D, and lets face it -they are low in calories and in so many delicious restaurant dishes, in salads, on pizzas - and I just got tired of trying to eat around them!

For everyone, certain vegetables we've hated since childhood -
for me, it was olives and mushrooms!
Method: Every day at lunch, eat olives with my meal - assorted types (Greek (kalamata), Spanish green (manzanilla), French black (nicoise), whatever you can get your hands on). Start with just a few, and gradually take one or two more each day.

Every day at dinner, eat raw or sautéed mushrooms with my meal.

Time it took to love them: Approximately two weeks.

Having to change one's habits overnight is not easy - especially when we've grown to love certain foods (a certain way) and eat them on a regular basis. That said, the reality is that we control what foods we like and don't like, and after a short (and at times unpleasant) transition period, we can start eating and loving foods we used to dislike - and forget all about those unhealthy foods we've become accustomed to. If you consume (enter food you hate here) at some point every day, in two weeks or less, you will have naturally developed a taste for it.

So go ahead, trade your roasted potatoes for roasted beetroot. Don't like fish? Eat tuna, tilapia, or salmon (all good gateway fish :)) for at least one meal every day. In no time, you will be loving healthy foods you've always disliked, and getting closer to your health and weight-loss goals!

It's not so hard to eat it, when you actually love it.

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