I really like most vegetables. I love broccoli. I love salads. And yet, half the time when I go to make something to eat and I think about having a salad, or having vegetables I think “yuck! I don’t want vegetables! I’m tired of salad (even though I haven’t had one in a couple of weeks)!” Eating vegetables seems like this big chore, and I resent the idea that I should do it . . . . even though, in reality, I want to do it.
I blame the media. Every cartoon, every commercial, every movie, and even every book tells me that I should hate vegetables. Salads aren’t something that people like to eat, they’re something that we suffer though eating because they’re healthy, and healthy things are horrible things that we have to struggle to accept and integrate into our otherwise happy lives. We don’t do healthy things because we want to, we do them because we have to. That’s what the media tells us. And so, even though I like vegetables — even though I enjoy the taste, and even though I know from experience that I feel better physically when I’m eating my vegetables — my brain tells me that I should resent it, because it’s hard, and it’s work.
So instead of making myself a salad, I have a bowl of cereal. I eat bread, and pasta, and things that I know from experience make me feel tired and give me an upset stomach — and then I feel miserable, because I eat an unbalanced diet, and I don’t feel well, and I don’t even enjoy it. I just do it because it’s easy (so called) and because the same cultural memes that tell me I’m supposed to hate my vegetables tell me that I’m supposed to enjoy eating “comfort” foods and other crap.
The best defense I’ve found is to make vegetables easy. I buy the baby salad greens because they are pre-washed and don’t require getting out the salad spinner or ripping them up, which means I can put a salad together in about three minutes. I’ll make a big pot of soup or chili and keep it in the fridge so that all I have to do is heat up a serving in my small saucepan — about five minutes. Heating soup is even less effort than pouring a bowl of cereal or making a cheese on toast, so it’s easier to stop my brain from convincing me that I don’t want it. And I make hummus, because although it’s made of chick peas, I can trick my brain into thinking it’s dip, and tell myself that the carrot sticks I eat it with are just a delivery method.
But it would be easier if I could just convince my brain that I like what I like.