Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Apr 19, 2013 01:35 PM

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.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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?

        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:

              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.


                  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.