I used to really hate fruits, vegetables and any ‘healthy’ food to be honest. They all just tasted so bland and left me feeling as if I hadn’t had a proper meal or snack; that I had missed out. That left me feeling cheated and only made me crave all the sugary, fatty and salty foods that I just loved so much because they tasted absolutely amazing. I only had to think of my favourite chocolate bar, takeaway or cake and my mouth would start to water. Just the first bite had me captivated and the sole object of my affection became whatever I was eating (devouring) in that moment. Of course, one cake was never enough, I always wanted another; whilst a massive, fatty takeaway would fill me eventually, I still tried to stuff in some ice cream or a cake afterwards. In short, I was in heaven because these foods had my taste buds crying out for more and the pleasure centres in my brain were letting off fireworks, making me feel like I was on top of the world! Obviously, after I had eaten, I would experience feelings of fear, panic and guilt at the prospect of the weight that I would put; my initial energy peak fell sharply making me feel drowsy and sluggish and my motivation hit rock bottom. The crazy thing about it all though was that none of the fear, dread and likely weight gain was ever enough to stop me going for another ‘fix’ sometimes on the same day even!
At that time, I was overweight and unhappy. The weight loss I dreamed of so that I could wear anything I wanted seemed unattainable and I’d be so jealous of people who seemed to be able to eat whatever they wanted and not put on an ounce. ‘If only healthier food tasted better’, I used to think because then it would be so much easier to stomach! My desperation to be slim gave me just enough energy to not give up on myself and to research ways in which I could try and incorporate better foods into my diet without feeling so left out. I was elated when there were weeks that I managed to force myself to have my five a day portions of fruit and vegetables; make as many better choices. This never lasted for too long and, as everyone knows, the rollercoaster must go up as well as down and so predictably, I would give in and have the foods that smelt amazing, tasted wonderful and warmed my soul to the very core! I truly did not believe that it would be possible for me to ever contemplate having to give any of these up much less voluntarily not eat them so much.
Even though I could clearly see that my love of sweet, salty and fatty foods was making me gain weight, have no energy or enthusiasm towards life, I felt powerless to change because the alternative, living a life full of bland, dull food was too horrible to tolerate. By this time, I had given up on dieting and, unbeknown to me, was well on the road to recovery. I had stopped weighing myself and given up the constant monitoring, restrictions and denial that dieting requires. I had just hit a road block on my journey but was unaware of it. This time it was different because the ‘old’ me would have just given up but this ‘new’ diet-free me had a determination that was fueled by the extra head space I had that dieting used to occupy. I was in the middle of my Anti-Diet journey and I began to believe gave that maybe, just maybe I could break this addiction. Once I had committed to finding a way, I became determined in my quest. This time I:
- Did not give up even though fruit and veg tasted so bland
- Made a commitment to myself to eat at least one portion of fruit and veg a day (I can’t say I kept my promise every day each time I fell, I got back up)
- Gradually built up from one portion a day to two and then three and so on until I stopped counting
- Still ate sugary, high fat foods but found that my cravings were miraculously reducing as I persisted and this meant that I found myself naturally having less of these types of foods
- If I didn’t like one fruit, I would move on to something else
- If I didn’t like one type of vegetable, I vowed to try another
- The less sugary, salty and fatty foods I ate, the less I craved them
What I didn’t realise was the surprising and very welcome outcome that came with this persistence and determination to nourish my body and that was:
- Fruit began to taste amazing – Once I started to eat them regularly and mindfully, I slowly began to truly taste them and appreciate their very unique and delicious textures and tastes.
- Vegetables tasted great – Including them in my meals not only made them healthier for me but they were delicious and helped me to feel fuller for longer.
- My health improved and I lost weight
- I no longer felt so demotivated and sluggish because I had more energy than I used to
- I felt more in control of my life because the tight hold that food had on me began to loosen and I felt freer than I had in ages.
- I stopped feeling guilty because I began to enjoy healthier options voluntarily and without pressure.
I was totally amazed and wanted to find out why this was because in the past, I had never felt like this. My research was eye opening and it was great to have answers that I could relate to and gave me an explanation as to what happened. What I found was:
Sugary foods can dampen the sensitivity of your taste buds making other foods appear tasteless
Salty foods can desensitise your taste buds which can make you feel like other foods are bland
High fat foods can dull your taste buds making you compensate by eating more food
It all now made sense! The reason that I didn’t find fruit, vegetables and other healthier foods appetising was not because they were bland but because my taste buds needed to reset. I had stumbled upon this jewel accidentally through my commitment to be healthier and on the other side of this commitment I found how amazingly delicious these foods were!
So, if you are like I used to be, if you hate fruit, if you find vegetables pointless BUT you would like to be healthier – Make the commitment to change and follow through with it. Know that if you persist, you will get to a place where you will be healthier and enjoy your food. It really is a win-win! Not only that, you will feel fuller and more satisfied as the fiber in fruit and veg fill us up for longer.
WRITTEN BY SHERRY TAYLOR
AUTHOR OF THE ANTI-DIET LIFESTYLE – 4 CRAZY STEPS TO WEIGHT LOSS SUCCESS!