A big surprise in my fitness journey was realizing that you can force your taste buds to like healthy foods. And when I say “force,” I mean downright bully your taste buds, if necessary!
Prior to me losing weight I remember looking at other people eating salads every day for lunch. I'd think to myself “how can they eat that every single day?” Of course, as I watched them I was always wolfing down a pepperoni pizza – every single day!
It doesn't matter if you're eating salads every day or pizza every day – it becomes a ritual, a habit. Just like eating eggs and bacon every morning for breakfast, which was my Dad's favorite breakfast for over 30 years! I can still remember him telling me that his Doctor told him he should only eat 3 eggs a week. Well, he would eat 3 eggs each day, sometimes more! (Note: I'm not saying you should do that, but he did.)
Sure we could eat something else, and sometimes we do, but I'd say that most people have their own mental “default options menu” for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And I'd bet that options menu is a rather short list that doesn't change very often. These are the core of our eating habits.
Default Likes vs Acquired Likes
I've loved pizza for as long as I can remember. I don't think there was any force required for that love, it was a true “love at first taste” scenario. On the other hand, I had a true hatred for salads for as long as I can remember as well. I thought salads were strictly rabbit food, unless of course it was on a big greasy burger or sub.
Over the last couple of years I've had a real change of heart!
Interestingly, today I eat more salads than I do pizza. However, my craving for salad had to be built up over time. It certainly started out as forced feedings with the goal to consume lower calorie foods to help with my weight loss effort (my 100 pound weight loss journey). However, literally within a month or two of eating salads daily I found myself actually craving salads!
This is one example of mine where an ‘acquired like' actually reached the level of a ‘default like' (pizza; strong default like, too) by simply eating repetitious eating. Check out Favorite Healthy Foods that Make Losing Weight Easier to see an entire list of other healthy eating examples I picked up.
Also, check out my favorite salad recipe:
As I said in the beginning of the article, the mere fact that I can change my food cravings was a weight loss game changer for me. I was in a dire place, almost 500 pounds, and not a single healthy habit to claim. If I can change, anyone can change.
You may be in a place where you find that you don't like ANY healthy foods, and dieting may seem like a painful and impossible experience. Perhaps start slow – find a healthy food you can tolerate and dedicate yourself over the next month to trying different ways to prepare that food and incorporate it into your daily meals. Try to replace a unhealthy food option that you eat regularly.
I think you'll find that you CAN force your taste buds to like healthy foods… and you may be surprised at some of the healthy (and lasting) habits you can create!