It is difficult to eat vegetables when you don’t like them! If I can be completely honest with you, eating vegetables seems like a punishment to me most of the time. If vegetables didn’t matter, which they clearly do, I probably wouldn’t eat them. I can’t say that there is a single vegetables that I would choose to eat over other tasty food options. Edamame would be at the top of the list, and I have to have that slice of lettuce on my sandwich, but otherwise I could live without having to eat vegetables.

Because “everybody knows” you should eat your vegetables, I do, and rightfully so. There is no denying the importance of including vegetables into your daily diet — at least half a plate with each meal is the recommendation, and a good one.  If you want to be healthy, significantly reduce your risk of chronic diseases and lose weight, there is no better method than to include more vegetables into your diet. Not convinced? Collectively ask 74,063 nurses who participated in the Nurses Health Study published in a 2004 article in the journal Nature.

The nurse who ate the most fruits and vegetables had a 24% lower risk for becoming obese over the 12 year study.

A similar 10-year  study published in a 2008 article in the journal Obesity found:

Dietary patterns associated with a high intake of fruits and vegetables in Mediterranean populations may reduce long-term risk of subsequent WG and obesity among adults.

Not to mention that obesity is one of many factors that are prevented with regular fruit and vegetable intake.

So, How Can You Eat More Vegetables When You Don’t Like Them?

First, always think:

One-half a plate of vegetables (or fruits) with every meal.

If you keep this thought in your “food-eating conscience” and follow it, you will get your recommended daily intake of vegetables.

For breakfast: Hmmmm… I typically don’t eat vegetables for breakfast, but when I do, I sautee frozen or fresh vegetables in olive oil and lightly season them as a tasty side for eggs, wheat toast and maybe grits.

For lunch: You can’t beat eating a small side salad when it comes to lunch. For me, I don’t feel like I am continually forcing myself to eat a large salad for lunch. Often I do, but those days when I would rather eat something else, I compromise with a side salad. If you eat in a cafeteria at your workplace and go through the hot line, you cannot walk out of that line without getting two servings of vegetables! Try to choose the healthier version of the main entree’, but if you don’t always… Ok. However, The other half of your plate or to-go box should be packed with vegetables. If you want to lose weight, I suggest even eating your vegetables first, and then eating your main entree’, of course stopping the second you begin to feel full. With that being said, I have never been through a hot line at a cafeteria where I was given too little food.

For dinner: Before I begin to eat or cook dinner for the evening, I mentally grade my fruit and vegetable intake for the day. If I didn’t quite do as well as I should have (half a plate with all meals), then I go into “recovery mode.”

Recovery mode? Yes! It’s like playing a video game. You go throughout the game accomplishing different obstacles, and occasionally lose “life” from a fall or an attack from an enemy. But what do you need? You must get the “health box” or another object that will boost your “life” so you can continue throughout the game. I see eating vegetables at dinner the same way. Before I heat anything up, I pull out a package of a frozen vegetable, put it in a container and push the “frozen vegetable” button on the microwave. Only then, do I think about my other food options.

After my vegetables are thawed, I lightly season them and cover half of my plate with the vegetable. I am sure my body appreciates the replenishment of vitamins, antioxidants, protein and fiber.

Take Home Point

Eating vegetables does not have to be a punishment. From a practical standpoint, keep your freezer stocked with frozen vegetables (which are inexpensive by the way!). Half your plate of food for all three major meals of the day should be vegetables. You can’t get better natural nourishment!

If you have any other ideas on how to include vegetables into your diet, share your thoughts below!