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I'm a picky eater but would like some tips on how to start eating healthier.

I'm eighteen and trying to be healthier after years of having a terrible lifestyle. I make very simple recipes like fettucine pasta, white rice and soy sauce, or tomato soup. I have started exercising and such but I know having a healthy diet is important. The issue I have is there I things I won't eat that go hand in hand with a healthy diet like most vegetables (excluding corn, peas, and potatoes) and things like lettuce, peppers, and strangely things similar to pickles. I am open about most other things and I would like to overcome this issue and start eating healthier though so do you have any tips that could help me out? Recipes that might spice up the boring diet I already have?

Any help is appreciated greatly.

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  1. Less beige foods and more colorful foods is generally a good rule. Applies mainly to fruits, veggies, and carbs though.

    You have to watch your intake of carbohydrates in general. If you grew up poor like me you probably pile your entire plate full of rice. Now rice, pasta or bread should be 1/3 your meal. The rest clean protein and vegetables. Try 1/3 each of carb, veggie, and protein.

    How are your cooking skills? It can be difficult if you are picky

    2 Replies
    1. re: youareabunny

      I'm not bad at cooking, obviously not gourmet but my father is a professional cook and has taught me over the years. Money was tight as I grew up though.

      1. re: xXAlyssa123Xx

        Since you can already cook that is a huge bonus!!

        Can you ask your dad to spend one day a week/month/etc with you shopping and cooking? There are so many great cook books and recipe sites maybe the two of you could pick a category a work thru it so you get a solid assortment of "go to" affordable and healthy meals. Working with a pro who is also your dad could be just the kick start you need.

        Learning to eat better is like starting a new work out program. Don't try to do it all at once or you will quickly get discouraged. Start with the foods you DO like-white rice, pasta, tomato soup and work from there to make them more nutritious.

        Don't "like" veggies? Baby steps. Start with "I will eat 2 servings of veggies a day as well as try one new veggie a week and/or one new preparation of a veggie I do like."

        In terms of starting with what you DO like, I did a google search for healthy pasta dishes. I came up with a huge list (below) but you can narrow it down and start looking for ones that tempt you.

        Once you find a few you like, bookmark them or print them out and then try your hand at them. This is where having a partner (like your Dad) would be a great. If not how about a friend? roomate? coworker?

        http://www.cookinglight.com/food/ever...
        http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipe...
        http://www.womenshealthmag.com/nutrit...
        http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_men...

        You get the idea- do the same with healthy chicken recipes, tomato soup recipes, healthy rice dishes. Go to the library and take out a few cook books.

        slow and steady wins the race

    2. Don't discount foods you haven't liked in the past- find another way to prepare them and try them again. Some people like certain veggies raw but not cooked or the other way around. My sister's ex-husband swore he hated veggies but it turned out that his Mom was just a lousy cook and boiled everything to mush. Eating them prepared differently was like discovering them for the first time to him!

      Also, learn about nutrition and what all those carbs are doing to your body. You might be encouraged to eat more non-starchy veggies if you understand the benefits of them.

      1. First, congratulations on starting far younger than I did. Start by *not* eating the worst stuff: Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and sugar, including high-fructose corn syrup. Check the ingredients on all packaged food. If veg are a problem, try more fruit.

        1. A great way to prepare dark, leafy greens is to first blanch them for 2 minutes, drain and then heat up a pan with evoo and add some anchovies or anchovy past to the oil.
          Oyster sauce is a great addition too.
          This will give you depth of flavor and umami.
          So. Good.

          1. You've already received some great advice. And, recognizing that your diet needs improving is the first step to getting there. In terms of vegetables, as you evidently realize, corn, peas and potatoes are starchy vegetables, so they do not have the same nutritional benefits of true vegetables.

            When you say you like lettuce, do you mean iceberg lettuce (which has virtually no nutritional value) or do you like darker, leafier lettuces like romaine, or red & green leaf? If you like the latter, they pack plenty of nutritional punch, and can lay the ground work for healthful, tasty salads. Similar question for your comment that you like "peppers"; do you mean sweet (i.e., bell) peppers? They too are very healthy. I'd start making salads that feature those kinds of lettuces and peppers, and gradually add other types of vegetables -- cucumbers (which you may find tasty if you like pickles), tomatoes, carrots, etc. You may find that you like at least some of those items, especially if combined with foods that you do like. Learn to make your own salad dressings -- a basic vinaigrette is simple and really improves the taste of a fresh salad over bottled dressing.

            Another way to amp up your vegetable intake is to add them as ingredients to the types of dishes that you do like. For example, add blanched asparagus pieces, string beans, or broccoli to pasta or rice dishes, such as pilaf or risotto. (For risotto, if you've not made it before, I can give you a recipe, but there was a long thread with risotto variations about a month ago.)

            And do re-try foods from time-to-time that you think you do not like. You'd be surprised but tastes do change over time. There were lots of foods that I did not like at your age (mushrooms, bleu cheese, cream cheese) that I now really enjoy.

            7 Replies
            1. re: masha

              << peas and potatoes are starchy vegetables>>

              actually PEAS would be categorized as LEGUMES, NOT as starchy vegetables.

              along with other legumes, such as beans and lentils, they have been a major source of protein intake for peoples practically all over the world for centuries.

              they are VERY nutritious.
              their protein, btw, unlike meat, normallly does not come with many of the disadvantages of meat such as:
              a)high antibiotic exposure
              2)relatively high risk of bacterial contamination (that's why the "pink slime" manufacturers thought it was a good idea to mix ammonia in with beef)
              3)high association with coronary disease;
              both because of a) it's lipid profile and because b) it fosters the growth of damaging bacteria in the human gut:
              http://www.scientificamerican.com/art...

              also, it should be noted that peanuts are LEGUMES, despite their name, they are NOT nuts

              strongly DISPUTE the idea that peas or any other type of legume should in any way be categorized as unhealthy. actually this whole category of plant food should be categoruzed as the MOST HEALTHY source of protein intake

              also, strongly SUPPORT trying to make the change gradually. when i first realized that i had to eat in a more healthy fashion and i looked analytically at my recipe file, i was sort of shocked to realize that almost every recipe in there was profoundly unhealthful. it took a while to do the trial and error experimentation that was needed to develop a new recipe file and to figure out which restaurants could actually cook tasty healthful food.

              1. re: westsidegal

                Your point is well-taken that peas (and other legumes) are a good nutritional substitute for meat protein, especially when served with rice, so as to get a complete set of amino acids. My suggestion that they were not "healthy" in that sense was in error. So, if the OP is looking to substitute plant proteins for animal protein, eating peas makes sense.

                Since she indicated that she wants to add "vegetables" to her diet, I understood her to mean that she was looking for the nutritional benefits ordinarily associated with true vegetables -- i.e., high in vitamins, minerals & fiber, while low in calories. Peas don't really fit that profile because of their high carb (and protein) content.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  "actually this whole category of plant food should be categoruzed as the MOST HEALTHY source of protein intake"

                  It's not, though. Because much of its protein is not used well, not bioavailable. Soy is well used, but has other health risks of its own.

                  http://www.jssm.org/vol3/n3/2/v3n3-2p...

                  Note table 1.

                  1. re: mcf

                    Aren't they one of those protein sources that are completed when combined with a nut protein such as tahini/sesame seeds? Because a pea hummus is delicious and healthy, veg-heavy dips are a great way to get healthy food in a not-obvious delivery system!

                    1. re: Elster

                      You have to look at the actual bio-availability, utilization rate of the protein and then look at how much other nutrient value and glycemic load it costs you to get adequate protein, which is close to 100 grams per day completely utilized protein per day for anyone with a pulse who moves at all.

                      Complete on paper doesn't equal complete and usable in your body.

                      Then there's the glycemic load per protein gram, way too high in most cases.

                      1. re: mcf

                        I don't actually disagree, but I'm posting to clarify:

                        I wouldn't suggest eating legumes and nuts as the sole or even primary source of protein in your diet. (btw, I'm a fan of seafood, eggs, and well-raised meats as an element of healthy eating).

                        Likewise, I wouldn't suggest that legumes fulfill the role of low glycemic load and highly nutrient-dense vegetables.

                        But I would say that legumes can be a healthy part of the diet for most people (excepting some diabetics, people with allergies or other specific reasons to avoid specific foods).

                        Nuts too.

                        Wouldn't you agree?

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          Yes, but not as the healthiest available source of dietary protein, which was the claim I responded to.

              2. Basically, as close to vegetarian as you can still enjoy is the healthy way to go, and, though I'm not a vegetarian yet, congrats on the sensible attitude to diet that it has taken me 50+ more years than you to develop. For example, red meat is generally bad, unless you cannot ingest sufficient protein with other foods.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Joebob

                  That's completely false, has zero basis in any solid science.

                2. What kind of lettuce have you tried? Growing up, my mom only used iceberg which is pretty bland. Now I love the clamshells of mixed greens drizzled with a little olive oil and croutons.
                  And weezieduzzit has a great point about the veggies--preparing them differently can make a world of difference. Once I had broccoli lightly steamed with fresh garlic I realized I loved it--but when it was overcooked and mushy it tasted just awful.

                  1. Try roasting root vegetables that have been cut into 1" chunks. It caramelizes their natural sugars. Toss them with a bit of olive oil in a bowl or bag, just enough to coat. Spread them on a sheet pan, add salt and pepper, plus garlic powder if you like, and roast at at 400-475 for about 45 minutes. If you add some chicken legs or thighs, you have dinner. I never liked rutabagas until I made them this way. Good veg for this are parsnips, carrots, brussels sprouts, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, onions, shallots, cauliflower, and broccoli stalks (if using florets, check on them sooner and remove before they char).

                    Grilling vegetables will also sweeten them.

                    Corn is little better than white starches, but sweet potatoes are healthy. They do not need candying. Simply baking or nuking works fine. Cook dried legumes like lentils and beans. There are countless threads on this board about that.
                    Their high protein and soluble fiber make them great alternatives to white starches, and cooked dried large lima beans (which equate to butter beans, not green limas) have flavor and texture that are hard to distinguish from cooked potatoes.

                    1. I'm really picky, too. However, I've learned to like many things I previously didn't care for.

                      In some cases, I just started to like certain things (like avocado) in early adulthood. You might want to try things you don't like from time to time, just to see if your tastes have changed.

                      A lot of US households treat vegetables as an afterthought. In my family growing up, our dinner vegetable was just steamed or boiled, and served on the side with nothing but butter and salt to liven it up. That's pretty boring. Try exploring other cuisines and find out if there's a preparation of a hated vegetable that appeals to you.

                      For example, I won't eat plain steamed cauliflower. But I love the Indian dish aloo gobi, which is basically potatoes and cauliflower in a tomato-based sauce. Similarly, I'll eat steamed broccoli, but it doesn't thrill me. Grilled broccoli, on the other hand, is great.

                      You can try mixing the vegetables you don't like with things that you do like. I wouldn't be interested in eating a big heap of boiled carrots. But I have no problem with carrots when they're in minestrone.

                      Also, if there's something you dislike, try eating a high-quality version of it. Years ago I tried to learn to like extra virgin olive oil, but I thought it was bitter and unpleasant. So I decided to try one of the fancier bottles instead before I gave up on olive oil altogether, and now I love the stuff.

                      Likewise, if you think you don't like a particular fruit or vegetable, try getting it from a farmer's market. For certain foods, like tomatoes, what you get at a farmer's market is very different from what you can get at the store.

                      For nutritional information I like www.whfoods.com and www.nutritiondata.com.

                      As a final thought, are you trying to eat healthily or are you trying to lose weight? Unfortunately, the two don't always go together.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: GEC

                        I completely agree that the way that certain veggies are prepared has a huge influence on certain people's palates. For veggies like cauliflower or broccoli - particularly when steamed - there can be a smell that some find fairly offputting. However, raw or grilled - this smell isn't as present. Other issues can be texture - if it's very soft is that unappealing to you? Or, is raw and really crunch unappealing?

                        I would also say that while you're trying to introduce different veggies/ and veggie preparations - don't "punish" yourself by having to eat these items on their own. Grilled or roasted veggies can hold up to being dressed with a tomato sauce. Hummus, low fat dips/salad dressings, parmesan - while these items may add some fat, at the start having positive associations of eating a vegetable is important. It's also really discouraging to spend money and time preparing something you don't like and feeling you have to just throw it out.

                        While an alfredo sauce isn't the most healthy option - you can add some grilled vegetables to the sauce and it can make a meal you already like at least have some vegetables. As you begin to find the kinds of veggies you like, and how you like to cook them - you can begin to slowly change the ratios so that there's more vegetable to sauce.

                      2. Start adding a serving or two of fruit to your diet each day. Great snacks instead of chips or cookies. An apple or orange, or a banana with oatmeal in the morning. Or a handful of blueberries. All great ways to sneak in some vitamins and fiber and most people can find some fruit they like.

                        How about yogurt?

                        1. Perhaps the easiest way to start is dressing up what you already like. Find a recipe for tomato soup that includes some veggies and maybe some different seasonings. Instead of white rice, try the mixed brown rice from Lundberg. You might like orzo pasta with some cooked veggies - google orzo pilaf.

                          I like epicurious.com. You can search out some recipes and save to your own personal on-line recipe box. For example, it looks like there are over 500 tomato soup recipes on the website.

                          I agree about iceberg lettuce. Personally, I like Romaine best or the spring mixes. I also like baby spinach.

                          Good luck!

                          1. I am with you on the vegetables and I'm learning to like them more and more. I started with something simple and healthy. Have you tried grilled zucchini or yellow squash? Its' sweet and delicious and healthy too!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: wincountrygirl

                              Zucchini is a fine example of Bad vs Good. My MIL used to peel it and boil it, believe it or not, and it was gross. But if you slice it unpeeled and stir-fry it in a little real olive oil until it is barely tender and then eat it with a squeeze of lemon juice and some grated Parmesan cheese, you will have a gourmet treat that you may find yourself making a meal of.

                              1. re: Querencia

                                And it's SO good when it is browned!

                            2. Eating seasonal, when a particular fruit or vegetable is at their peak, might help you too e. g. now is asparagus time.

                              1. Clean out your fridge and cabinets.
                                Don't buy anything in a box, bag, jar or can for 30 days*.

                                Explore "real cooking" on sites such as this one.

                                Take notes.
                                See if you feel better.

                                (*use some common sense here. You might need a bag of rice or flour, a box of dried pasta etc.)

                                Oh and yeah, MOVE. A lot. Run or climb or cycle or whatever it is that makes you feel happy and alive.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: pedalfaster

                                  I'm glad you mention common sense, because a lot of foods that come in bags or cans -- frozen vegetables, canned tomatoes, etc -- are perfectly healthy. But they usually have just the one ingredient instead of a whole bunch of stabilizers and other chemicals.

                                2. My son was the pickiest eater on the planet; he survived his first 10 years on a diet of bacon, grapes, Cheerios, and pretzels. (No exaggeration.) While away at college, he discovered Kung Fu and became a fitness nut. He's teaching himself to like more and more vegetables and spices. He's recently graduated to eating beets! (He's 29.) Keep trying tastes of things (preferably local and seasonal, as they taste better). It takes about 10 to 12 tries for your palate to become used to a new taste/texture.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    Is your son any relation to my brother? LOL.
                                    He survived on flour tortillas, Monterey-Jack cheese and Granny Smith apples for ~decades~.

                                    He's now in his late 40's and eating many other foods, if that is any consolation to you.(p.s. he is also happily married, employed and a home-owner--imagine that!)

                                  2. Check some of these recipes http://www.kripalu.org/article/270

                                    1. You can make all sorts of one pot pasta dishes in a pressure cooker. I have an electric one that I use this for pretty regularly. Whole wheat pasta is even healthier.

                                      I'll throw some pasta in, along with chicken broth or a jar of tomato sauce along with some different veggies like carrots, zucchini, spinach, whatever, then just let it cook for about 15 minutes. No need to boil water or drain the pasta or waste any extra pots/pans.

                                      Or how about making some wrap sandwiches with lean lunch meats, tuna, hummus, roasted peppers, and other stuff.

                                      I always keep some veggie burgers on hand for a quick sandwich when I'm hungry. I fry them up in a little olive oil, then put them on a wheat bun with some toppings and a side of sun chips to go along with them.

                                      1. I've found that by shredding vegetables like zukes, peppers and carrots, I've come to really appreciate them.

                                        You might also want to try pureeing them in soups, or just adding the shreds to broth-based soups. Grilling them can also bring out flavors you'd never noticed.

                                        When I'm serious about my weight, my go-to dinner is a marinated chicken breast done under the broiler, some sauteed veggies in a creative sauce, and a little bit of quinoa (which I have substituted for most grains and pastas).

                                        1. Veg Advice:

                                          Don't overcook them.

                                          Steam or oven-roast them.

                                          Still on the fence? ADD BUTTER!

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: sandylc

                                            +1.

                                            1. re: sandylc

                                              And maybe some parmesan :)

                                            2. Looking at what you list for foods you'll eat, the obvious answer is more vegetables, and possibly less refined grains. And I agree with others than corn, peas and potatoes are in general better classified with starch or proteins, when it comes to nutrition.

                                              What is it about vegetables that you don't like? Is it the texture (you like mainly soft textures), or is it the taste (too bitter, too strong, not rich tasting enough).

                                              If you like soft textures, try things like roasted vegetables (squash, red peppers, onions, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini carrots, asparagus, cauliflower etc.). You can eat them plain or tossed with pasta or topping rice or potatoes, or puree them into a sauce or soup.

                                              You say you like tomato soup - try other pureed vegetable soups, like carrot, or squash, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, or asparagus. Do you like spaghetti sauce? If so, add other vegetables to the mix (onions, carrots, zucchini, celery), or try something similar, like ratatouille.

                                              And keep in mind - you can retrain your palate. If you're used to bland, squishy, starchy, salty fatty foods (like rice with soy sauce, or fettucini alfredo) you can work to like other foods. At each meal, force yourself eat a small portion of a food you mildly dislike, cooked in as appealing a way as you can - maybe a cup of pureed vegetable soup, or some roasted cauliflower with cheese sauce. Once you get used to those, you can push the envelope more.

                                              1. Try cooking some mixed vegetables (the kind that has the corn & peas you like, along with green beans & carrots), putting them on rice and topping with this hot peanut sauce. This sauce is good with both raw and cooked veggie combinations.

                                                Hot Peanut Sauce
                                                Makes 4 servings

                                                1 Cup crunch peanut butter
                                                4 Tablespoons soy sauce
                                                1 1/2 T. lemon juice (fresh is best)
                                                1 generous tsp. honey (or more, to taste)
                                                2 cloves garlic, crushed (I used 1 tsp. from a jar of minced garlic)
                                                1 tsp. chili powder

                                                Mix all together in a saucepan & heat briefly to warm (or put in a glass bowl / 4-cup measure and microwave 1 - 2 minute on medium-- careful not to overcook). It should be a thick pouring sauce. Add teaspoons of warm water to thin sauce, if needed.

                                                1. What's wrong with your diet now?

                                                  Ain't nothing inherently wrong with pasta, rice or soup.

                                                  In fact I would say your current diet is probably "healthier" than a majority of Americans, and certainly more so than a majority of Americans age 18 or 19.

                                                  1. You haven't stated what you eat now that is unhealthy, but in my opinion and experience, the one most important thing you can do to improve your diet is to eliminate added sugar in all its forms.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                      Eliminating white flour isn't a bad move either - by largely eliminating white flour and sugar in what I cooked at home and watching what I ate when I went out, I lost 10 pounds without even noticing it over a few weeks.

                                                      1. re: Heatherb

                                                        I agree.

                                                    2. You've gotten a lot of great replies already. I hope I can add a little something useful.

                                                      Since you like white rice, have you tried other types of rice? You could make a bit of brown rice & mix it into the white rice after cooking, for starters. Trying other grains might be something interesting for you as well. I love rice, and I also like barley, for example.

                                                      Peppers: I don't particularly like green peppers, but once they've ripened into red or yellow (or orange, depending on the variety) I do like them. I will eat a red pepper raw, or sauteed/stir-fried, or grilled - all are different even with no seasoning at all - and flavor/texture also depend on the length of cooking time. So if you have time to experiment with things (and someone to feed what you don't like so that it doesn't just go to waste) that would probably be a lot of fun.

                                                      Then also if you can describe what you do and don't like about some specific foods, we might have more to offer.

                                                      As others have said, what you're eating already isn't terribly unhealthy - sounds like you just want a way to include more foods & try new things. I think that's wonderful & look forward to hearing about your "journey."

                                                      1. As we get older our taste buds change. As a child I ate corn, lettuce, white potatoes and some fruit. I found that even if I thought I hated something, trying it again a few years later really broadened my horizons. I have very few veg I dislike now, if any. Small amounts of things cut small in recipes are very helpful. Masking veg in a healthy sauce, like added veg to tomato sauce or soups is a good start. I agree that roasting veg is wonderful. I thought I hated carrots until I tried them roasted. Turns out I didn't like them raw. Portion size is another big one. Drink a glass or two of water and measure out or eyeball servings of food. An adult fist is roughly a cup which is serving size of pasta. Try whole grains. Eliminate calorie packed drinks. I drink mostly water, seltzer, skim milk and the occasional cup of tea.

                                                        Over all keep tasting! You will likely find a preparation of something you thought you didn't like.

                                                        1. On the assumption that the OP's dislike of "most vegetables" is going to continue, then I can only suggest eating more of the ones that are liked. Other than that, then simply not eating as much of whatever the OP normally eats would be a simple solution. Other than that then I reckon the OP condemns herself/himself to a continued unhealthy diet.

                                                          I'm also making the assumption that the OP's definition of "healthier" is related to calories/ weight loss, rather than other definitions of "healthy" (say, a low sodium diet).

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                            As always, words of wisdom from Harters. If there are only a handful (or fewer) of nutritional vegetables that you like, there is nothing per se unhealthy about only eating them so long as you include them in your daily diet.

                                                            Which recalls a story: Years ago, when our son was still in preschool, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, which resulted in a radical rethinking of his diet, including increasing the amount of vegetables that he consumed. After a lot of experimenting, we concluded that there were only 3 vegetables that he would eat -- raw carrots, raw red pepper strips, and barely cooked snow pea pods (presumably because all three are sweet and crispy). I recall discussing this with the pediatric nutritionist during a regular checkup, who responded that this was 2 more vegetables than most of her patients, who only ate carrots. Her advice - he was doing fine.

                                                          2. I only suggest this because you are young and appear to be open-minded:

                                                            Have you examined the WHY of not liking vegetables? Is it the IDEA of them, more than actual experience eating/tasting them?

                                                            My 80 YO mother says, "I don't LIKE that!" and I say, "Have you tried it?" and she says, "No, I just don't like the THOUGHT of it!"

                                                            Sigh. It seems that a smart young person like you might think about this angle and see if you have some ideas to adjust?

                                                            Or maybe not. Just a thought!

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                              I REFUSE to eat the "icky bits" of animals - organs, offal, gristle, fatty parts, etc. It just grosses me out.

                                                              I started eating more vegetables when I just wrapped my mind around the fact that they're just plant matter. Unless there's a strong taste to them (like with raw onions or celery), there's nothing inherently "gross" about them in my weird worldview. And I'll give any veggie a try if there's a butter and garlic sauce involved :D

                                                              Some stuff I can't get over - the raw onions, the celery, the limas, the okra, the cauliflower. But I've greatly the list of veggies I DO eat.

                                                              1. re: Heatherb

                                                                Except for that corn, peas & potatoes are the starchiest veggies around, so eating *more* of those will just give her more sugar, and that's not healthy at all.

                                                            2. I'll add to my previous remark that I don't believe a healthy diet is possible without a significant contribution from vegetables. I'm no vegetarian, but dietary fiber is essential to good health, and fiber comes from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. I'm not a whole-grain extremist either — I prefer white rice and pasta, too. But these have fiber removed. I eat coarse multi-grain bread and cereal to make up for it.

                                                              So my suggestion is that you try to broaden the range of vegetables you eat, and get some whole grains in there.

                                                              1. "Eat food. Mostly Plants.... don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food". -Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food

                                                                Here is a link to his book. It's a short, easy read and very straight-forward.

                                                                http://michaelpollan.com/books/in-def...

                                                                11 Replies
                                                                1. re: lynnlato

                                                                  I hate that quote at the top. It's very bad advice as a % of calories, though not by volume. Humans require protein and fat to stay alive, period. We don't require plants. So to limit the essential nutrients in favor of the optional ones that don't sustain life (though they add wonderful variety) makes no sense.

                                                                  I would cut the calorie dense starches and sugars which give you a paucity of nutrition *per calorie*, comparied to low starch and sugar ones that do the opposite, and plenty of quality proteins and fats that aren't attached to starches.

                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                    Where on earth did you come up with the insane notion that humans "don't require plants?" Ever heard of scurvy? That's just one of many nasty maladies that can befall humans in the absence of plant consumption.

                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                      Where on earth did you ever come up with the idea that plants are required to avoid scurvy? We need some vitamin C, not necessary to get it from plants. Animal foods contain plenty. Just not dried and salted, aged, meat stored on ships for months or years.

                                                                      The only macronutrients without which humans will die are protein and fat. All else is optional, some of it delicious and healthy, but there is no minimum dietary carboydrate requirement in human biology.

                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                        Please link to some form on scientific study on this. Because humans need fibre, among other things, to avoid a number of serious conditions, and that doesn't come from animal protein.

                                                                        1. re: piccola

                                                                          You're kind of making up facts from opinion or belief. I had a link to the vitamin c in organ meats Wiki, but the mods here are very unfriendly toward scientific discussion. But the famous study about a year of meat only eating is the famous experiment at Belleview Hospital with Steffanson, the Arctic explorer, and team after they'd lived with the Inuit and noticed they ate only meat and fat and some berries in season. Interesting to see mention online, too, of a study where high dose vit c did not reverse scurvy, but fresh meat did.

                                                                          We don't need fiber as a species. That's not a biological requirement in human nutrition which has no essential carbohydrate. And from perusing the literature (Wiki has a good one on sources of vit c), lower glucose and insulin levels seem to lead to a much lower vitamin c intake requirement.

                                                                          We cannot make vitamin C, it is essential to our health, but it is not only found in veggies. If they're not available (and I eat boatloads of non starchy veggies), then organ meats and fresh meat supply adequate vitamin c for human survival.

                                                                          I'm not against eating lots of colorful, leafy, high fiber veggies, my kitchen and fridge and meal plates are loaded with them. But I wouldn't die or get deficiency disease without them, only if I did not have adequate protein and fats.

                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                            I'm not "making up facts," I'm going on many studies that have shown improved health for humans who consume more fibre. Perhaps "need" wasn't the right word in that it may not be required for survival, but doctors do seem to think it's essential for optimal health, which is pretty important. Just like most of us don't "need" a job or a nice home to live (in that we can continue to physically exist without them) but they're considered pretty necessary.

                                                                            1. re: piccola

                                                                              "'m not "making up facts," I'm going on many studies that have shown improved health for humans who consume more fibre. "

                                                                              There have been contrary studies showing no benefit.

                                                                              I'm not going to go round and round about this, you can choose to believe whatever you want.

                                                                          2. re: piccola

                                                                            I'm not sure that conclusion is scientifically agreed upon, however, it's not unheard of especially in the wake of Atkins. The traditional Inuit diet is an example of a high fat/high protein diet that people subsisted on without developing scurvy or other vitamin deficiencies. It seems, however, that their plant consumption occurred when eating the entrails of the creatures they hunted, and vitamins are often found in organ meats, especially raw. Not sure that most of us living in the modern non-arctic world would find it easy to subsist on such a diet as those foods just aren't all that readily available (most of us don't hunt or fish in quantities high enough to sustain us, nor do we tend to eat the entire catch).

                                                                            I've linked to only 2 studies, but some interesting articles for you (I don't follow such a diet, as I am not diabetic and I like carby foods too much, but I do find the topic quite interesting and have reduced my carb intake a bit to aid in weight loss):

                                                                            http://www.jbc.org/content/87/3/651.f...

                                                                            http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com...

                                                                            http://annals.org/article.aspx?articl...

                                                                            http://www.mendosa.com/stefansson1.htm

                                                                            http://discovermagazine.com/2004/oct/...

                                                                            I would also claim that fiber is not particularly necessary in the diet, as long as you consume enough healthy fats. Low fat AND low fiber could be rather dangerous as there would be no bulk nor any lubrication in the gut to help move any remaining waste through your system.

                                                                            1. re: desertginger

                                                                              Humans die without protein and fat, they live healthily in the complete absence of carbohydrates long term. That's the only relevant finding.

                                                                      2. re: mcf

                                                                        To be clear, Pollan doesn't suggest eliminating protein and fat from one's diet. I think you're reading waaay too much into it... and for a good portion of Americans eating the standard, gluttonous American diet, his advice is straightforward, sound and easy to comprehend.

                                                                        1. re: lynnlato

                                                                          I didn't say he suggested eliminating it. But when I look at similarly disposed Bittman's recipes and recommendations (VB6), that's how I think that philosophy ends up in practice for most folks, unfortunately. Pollan's rule # 23: "23. Treat meat as a flavoring or special occasion food."
                                                                          Also"

                                                                          24. "Eating what stands on one leg [mushrooms and plant foods] is better than eating what stands on two legs [fowl], which is better than eating what stands on four legs [cows, pigs and other mammals]."

                                                                          I call BS.

                                                                    2. work on stir frying....it's colorful, crunchy and fast....the flavoring is up to you....tons of recipes online....experiment....buy a good wok (not the non-stick kind!)...find a good asian market. snow peas, bok choy, carrots, celery, zuchinni, asparagus...learn about flavoring with ginger, garlic and dried chiles,.....don't be afraid of tofu, it can be delicious and crispy if cooked properly....leftovers are great too. then learn about thai food, coconut curries etc.....c'mon have some fun....

                                                                      1. This whole thread seems to be about vegetables---proteins are important too. Does Alyssa like eggs in any form, not just hot eggs, like for breakfast, but cold eggs, like deviled eggs or an egg salad sandwich? Cheese? A chicken breast? A piece of salmon? Tuna salad in a sandwich?

                                                                        Try to develop a taste for salad by going at it in stages. 1) Treat yourself to a really nice salad bar at a restaurant or market and try a lot of different things, to get the hang of it and see what you like best. Be curious. 2) Then turn your refrigerator into a salad bar so that you can throw together a big fancy salad in a few minutes. Pickled beets, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, black olives, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, baby corn cobs, etc all come in jars that you can keep in the refrigerator after you open them (or open the can and transfer contents to a refrigerator dish). Add lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, an avocado, whatever you like. Add protein in the form of a hard-boiled egg and some pieces of cheese. Add a dressing that you like. The more stuff you put in a salad, the more fun it is to eat as every bite you take becomes a treasure hunt. And you will be surprised at how easy it is to duplicate a fancy restaurant salad at home.

                                                                        Another idea: see if you like salad better if you cut stuff up finer and MIX it with some potato salad from the supermarket deli counter. I had this at a restaurant in Florida under the name Garbage Salad and it was wonderful. The potato salad clings to the lettuce leaves so that they may not seem so leafy---more like "food".

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Querencia

                                                                          The lettuce/greens in a salad are just an excuse for eating all the really good stuff that goes on top of them... I love salad bars with all sorts of goodies - I take a handful of lettuce and pile the rest of my plate with a little bit of everything (except raw broccoli. I see no excuse for its existance whatsoever. Broccoli is meant to be steamed until it's nice and soft.)

                                                                        2. I suggest that during your yearly check-up, you get advise from a doctor/nutritionist who can make sure you are not lacking any vitamins/minerals due to your terrible lifestyle (as you put it). You may be anemic, or have an iron deficiency.
                                                                          If everything turns out to be A-ok, I would suggest taking it slow and in moderation... there is very little food that can do damage if eaten in moderation.
                                                                          Another suggestion would be to juice. I hate beets for example, but they are very healthy so I juice once a week and eat all the "yucky" vegetables that I don't like in order to get the vitamins I need.

                                                                          1. I am in my early forties and can attest that with effort you can overcome your food issues. I too hated all raw veg, fish, dried beans etc...now they are all my favorite foods. I honestly hated being picky so I opened my mind and allowed myself to like things. I started loving mushrooms only about 2 months ago and now I can't get enough. The last strong hold are cucumbers, I still hate them....but I have hope. Just remember it will take time.

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Gloriaa

                                                                              For cucumbers, I found that removing the seeds was the key for changing from "OK, if I must" to "REALLY like these". Slice the cucumber lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds to make boats. Then cut the firm part into sticks or slices.

                                                                              1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                I'm taking baby steps. I'm trying to appreciate them in tzatziki...I still don't like them much. Don't get me started on pickles, yuck!

                                                                                1. re: Gloriaa

                                                                                  If you ever come across them, try the small Persian cukes. Firmer, prettier color, very tiny seed area.

                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                    I buy them for my kids...I have never thought about trying one. I am making a fatouch salad for tomorrow night, maybe that would be a good time?

                                                                                  2. re: Gloriaa

                                                                                    If you're making your own tzaziki, try grating the cucumbers and then squeezing the grated cucumber over the sink to get rid of a lot of the excess water - it intensifies the flavours in the final recipe and makes the texture much more substantial :)

                                                                              2. Alyssa, might you still be watching this thread? Can you let us know a few things?

                                                                                Are you a vegetarian? Do you have any food allergies? Any foods you won't eat because of religious reasons? Are you out on your own in an apartment or still at home?

                                                                                1. Alyssa, what about eating out? I have often found that tasty, and often fatty versions of vegetables provide a gateway for picky people to eate more of them. If you for example, like Italian food, order your fettucine pasta with broccoli and peas.If you like India food, get a veggie entree with the meat one. Finding any way to try these things in a setting you'll like will make it more likely you'll eat them at home.