6 Tricks to Help You Love Healthy Foods

Here are some tips to help get you hooked on clean fare faster.

November 9, 2016
healthy chicken dinner

Adapted from Eat Clean Stay Lean: The Diet

If you're used to the addictive, over-the-top flavors of processed foods, the idea of black bean soup or an apple with peanut butter might seem sort of... blah. 

More: 6 Anti-Inflammatory Powerhouse Foods

That'll change as your taste buds adjust to fresh foods that aren't loaded with sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats—promise. But if you're not quite there yet, here are some tips to help get you hooked on clean fare faster. 

hates brussels sprouts
1. Forget how you felt as a kid

Maybe you haven't let a certain vegetable slip past your lips since elementary school but you've repeatedly heard that it delivers multiple benefits and could help you lose weight. Though it can sometimes be tough to reconcile your feelings with the facts, now might be the time to give long-hated foods another try.

Your taste buds are more sensitive to bitter flavors when you're young, so even though Brussels sprouts might have tasted like lawn clippings when you were 10, your adult self might actually like them. preparation is so important, too (try these unexpected ways to eat Brussels sprouts to keep the taste buds guessing). The broccoli of your childhood might have been mushy and bland—but cooking it differently today might yield a completely different result. 

healthy food in fridge
2. Surround yourself with healthy stuff

French people aren't born loving snails, and Japanese people don't come into this world craving sushi. Instead, they may come to like those foods because they're a regular part of the environment, according to findings published in the journal Appetite. Instead of buying more boxed mac and cheese or chicken fingers, get into the habit of stocking your kitchen with whole wheat pasta and organic chicken breasts. as you get used to having the clean stuff around, you might find yourself wanting it more often. 

More: The Biggest Healthy Eating Myths You Keep Falling For

carrots ranch dressing
3. Take small steps

If the thought of eating plain raw carrots grosses you out, don't do it. Start by pairing them with something outrageously delicious, like homemade ranch dressing. After a while, you might decide to start dunking them in something a little more nutrient-dense, like hummus. And if that's where you decide to stay? No problem. If you still don't like plain raw carrots, you don't have to eat them.

roasted cauliflower
4. Appeal to your sweet tooth

Take advantage of the fact that humans are hardwired to crave sugar. Instead of trying to choke down raw or steamed vegetables, try roasting them to bring out their natural sweetness and make them more palatable. You might not think a cauliflower floret could ever truly taste like candy, but when it gets caramelized and crispy, it really can, so give this cauliflower "popcorn" a chance and you won't look back. 

kale  farmers' market
5. Go for the fancy stuff

Research published in the Journal of Sensory Studies found that people who paid $8 for a buffet lunch reported being more satisfied with their meals than those who only paid $4, even though both groups ate the same exact fare. Why? Because sometimes we're shallow, and we automatically think that cheaper food is going to be lower quality.

When possible, spend the extra couple of bucks on organic kale from the farmers' market instead of that so-so bunch at the corner store (and turn it into these pizza kale chips for a salty snack). Chances are it's a fresher, overall better choice than the droopy bunch flown in from who-knows-where. Thanks to your built-in selectivity, you might trick yourself into thinking the pricy stuff is pretty delicious. 

eating salad
6. Make sure you're actually hungry

Before you bother sitting down to that beet and quinoa salad, check in with your appetite, and ask yourself these 5 questions. Why? Because when your stomach's really rumbling, you'll be way more willing to eat whatever's in front of you—even if it's a big bowl of vegetables.