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How Do I Force Myself to Eat More Vegetables?

Be forewarned: There’s only so much real estate for pepperoni I’m willing to sacrifice on my pizza

When you’re married to a dietitian, you hear figurative horror stories about patients who have broken down in literal tears when they’ve been asked to add vegetables to their diet. But even if we dismiss the recommended daily fruit and vegetable servings as USDA propaganda and go hog on the almighty multivitamin, it’s still impossible to achieve optimal vitamin and mineral intake through meat-based sources alone. Therefore, it might be in your best interests — at least for the sake of your eyesight — to sneak a sweet potato onto your plate every now and again.

I’m one of those people! I absolutely despise vegetables, but I know I should eat them. How should I go about getting more of them?

I’m going to ask you a serious question that’s going to sound as if it’s dripping with sarcasm, but I promise that it’s not: Do you even buy vegetables?

My trick for not eating cake or candy has always been a simple one: Just don’t buy them. After all, you can’t fall victim to the temptation of consuming unhealthy foods if they were never invited into your kitchen in the first place. Unfortunately, this mantra works as well for healthy foods as it does for unhealthy ones, which is to say that never purchasing a vegetable drastically reduces the likelihood that you’ll ever eat one. 

Okay, I bought the stupid vegetable. What now? How do I transform it into something I can eat as painlessly as possible?

Once the vegetable has made it through the door of your house, there are so many ways to eat that thing that will make it seem like it’s not even there. Is it spinach? Blend it into your breakfast smoothie. Is it a green pepper or an onion? Chop them up and eat them with your morning cheese omelet. Is it a whole cucumber or a head of broccoli? Dunk those suckers in blue cheese dressing (or whatever dressing you prefer), and use the veggies as a conveyance (or an excuse) to transport the delicious dressing into your mouth. Are you a sandwich lover? Slice those bad boys up and layer them across some turkey, ham or tuna.

Or, if you really don’t want to know that you’re eating a vegetable, you can order up one of the many green superfood blends, dump it into a glass of water and drink it down. (A word of warning, though: All things considered, the regular vegetables taste better; that said, if you throw them into a smoothie with sweetened yogurt and a banana, it’ll be far more palatable.) 

But what about dinner?

There’s no need to be intimidated by your inability to cook. Grab any bag of frozen vegetables, stick it in the microwave, follow the instructions, and in five minutes or less, you’ve got a plate full of ready-to-eat vegetables. To top it all off, they even make pastas out of vegetables these days, which means you can drop any number of meats and sauces onto beds of noodles and rice that are made almost entirely out of lentils, spinach, zucchini or cauliflower

Of course, if you’re in possession of a bit more culinary artistry, you can easily sneak onions, tomatoes, peppers or any number of other veggies into the oven to bake alongside your various meats. 

Speaking of tomatoes and onions, if you do a weekly taco night, you can chop them up with other veggies and drop them onto your tacos, or mix them together with lime juice and serve them in your own homemade salsa.

If all else fails, just shove some potatoes into boiling water with the skin on, leave them in there for 20 minutes, drain the water, mash the whole thing up with salt, butter and garlic and enjoy mashed potatoes equivalent to those served at Outback Steakhouse

You’re making it sound so easy! You don’t know my struggle!

You may not want to try any mean greens now, but if you avoid your vegetables for long enough, the only mean thing you’re going to encounter will be the face of your doctor at your next physical.