Welcome back to the podcast this week. I want to talk about vegetables, veggies, the rainbow those beautiful things that are also good for us. But for so many of us, tastes Oh, so gross. And we just really struggled to get them into our diet. And the reason why I think it's important to talk about veggies is because of this idea of positive displacement. So often when we talk about weight loss, we think about what we have to cut out. In order to be healthy and lose our weight. We talk about cutting out the carbs, cutting back on fat, eliminating the sugar. We talk about all of the things that we shouldn't do. And we all know how hard it is to cut out the stuff that we love and another strategy that we can take to encourage ourselves to eat a healthier diet is to focus on positive displacement. And this is where we use a strategy of adding the good things to our diet rather than trying to take the bad things away. And what we're really trying to do with this strategy is get full first on the food items that are better for us and that are going to support our health and our goals. And so that we just don't have the space. We're not hungry for the unhealthy stuff. And I love this strategy because it doesn't demonize any food groups, right. It's really just saying how can we add in a little bit more of the good stuff and also eat the quote unquote bad stuff, when when we want to and when we have the room to and I think when we can start moving away from focusing on what we think we need to cut out to lose weight and focusing instead on what we can add to make our diet a little bit better and not just make the diet better, but make ourselves feel better, have a little bit more energy. Start to slowly change what our tastes preferences are so that we're not craving some of the foods that aren't supporting our goals in quite the same way. I think that this is such a beneficial strategy both from a mindset point of view, but also from an actual nutrition dietary point of view. It just makes sense. And this also fits in with a theme that we've really been talking about lately on the podcast. And that is focusing on what what makes you feel good and healthy rather than on what will help you lose weight. What we've really been exploring lately is this idea that if you're constantly thinking about what you need to do to lose weight, and you're not losing weight fast enough or you're not meeting the owner, you know the expectations that you're putting on yourself, you feel like crap, and you just really give up. And so if we can instead focus on what's actually going to make me feel good in the moment. And not just in this moment, but in the moments that that come. You know, for example, eating a doughnut right now might make me feel that good for the five seconds that I get that Sugar Rush, but then I'm going to get bloated and then I'm going to feel guilty. And then I'm going to get the sugar crash a little bit later. And none of those things actually make me feel good. So when I'm looking at that donut deciding if I'm going to eat it, if I'm thinking if I'm thinking about that rather than Oh, well you know what if I eat this donut, I'm not gonna lose weight. It's just you know, that's just a broken strategy that doesn't work for most of us. And so I think using veggies as an example of how we can use positive displacement just fits in to this whole conversation. And when I was brainstorming what I wanted to say for this podcast, I I kept having the image of a kid sitting at the table, turning his nose out at the plate because you know, that's just such a classic mean for how we feel about veggies. But the truth is we are often like this as adults as well. And if this happens to be you, if you are turning your nose up at veggies, it is not your fault. I want to tell you right now there's actually a really good reason for this. If you happen to not like veggies it's because most animals and that includes us humans have this natural evolutionary aversion to bitter flavors. And most veggies are actually better. Some are sweet, right? If you think about carrots or peas or roasted beets or you know sweet potatoes, of course are some of the squashes they actually have a little bit of a of a, you know, a sweeter taste and so more people are prone to like liking carrots and you know, the sweeter sort of veggies but most of them are actually quite bitter. And when they do genetic studies, they find that about 25% of people are what we call super tasters. And these are people who are really sensitive to those bitter compounds that are found in veggies. And so if you happen to be one of those people who just don't do well with bitter, this is a genetic thing. This is a genetic thing. It's just not your fault. If you don't like the like the veggies. Now that means 75% of us are not super tasters. I'm definitely not and I know this because I love bitter things like grapefruit tonic water olives, hoppy. Like I like hoppy Scotch if you like hoppy beers or espressos bitter things like that, then like me, you're probably not a super taster, but 25% of the people on the world actually are. And the reason for this is that the bitterness comes from a component in plants called alkaloids, and alkaloids are nitrogen based compounds that plants actually make to defend themselves against parasites, animals, other predators. So their goal from an evolutionary perspective is to continue producing seeds, spread those seeds to make more plants so they want to naturally avoid the things that are going to prevent them to do that. And that's predominantly infections from things like parasites and then other animals eating them, right. And the thing is
some of these alkaloids are actually helpful, right if you think about quinine, this is a very bitter substance that is used to treat malaria. Morphine also comes from alkaloids. So they do have some use to us as humans, but many of them that exist out there in the wild are actually quite dangerous to us and to animals. And so we really evolved to spit out the bitter stuff that could kill us and this is how we manage to stay alive. And so when you think about it this way, not liking veggies is a little bit of a reflex or sorry, not liking veggies is really more of a reflex and not an actual preference, right. It's, it makes perfect sense from this evolutionary perspective. Why do you'd want to spit out kale and we're just not really giving our brains the chance to actually process the taste and decide if we like it or not. Because we just have, you know, this millions of years of experience behind us saying if it's bitter, we should really spit it out.
Now, as I mentioned, it's really only 25% of the population that has this reflexive aversion to bitter veggies. But there are other factors at play that may be contributing to you not liking veggies as well, if you aren't one of these super tasters. And this actually starts when you are a baby before you're even born. Science shows us that flavor preferences are actually passed down from mother to child in the womb, before you're even born. And they find that certain molecules particularly molecules that give like scent or odors to food can be found in amniotic fluid. And so babies are actually bathed in these aromatic molecules that help inform their tastes preferences. I read this one ridiculous study. They actually fed mother's garlic and took a sample of their amniotic fluid and had people smell it to see if they could note the garlic there and I'm not even kidding you. They do crazy things in science sometimes. But the point is if you are bathed in garlic in the amniotic fluid when you are a fetus when you are born, chances are you're going to like garlic and so how your mother ate before you were even born will affect what your taste preferences are and what your mother eats affects you in other ways as well as think of these other reasons why you might not like veggies, and it could be because of what your mom or what your caregivers made for you when you were a child. It could be that you've never really had the chance to eat them in a way that actually makes them taste good, right if you like or like me, and you grew up on like canned peas and boiled potatoes, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Right? Like those things are just gross. And so if you have it in your mind that that's what constitutes a veggie then of course, you're not going to like them. And it's also possible that you weren't really exposed to a wide variety of veggies as a child. And you know, this could be for many reasons. If you live up in northern Canada like I do, we don't often always have a wide variety of veggies available to us, at least at a reasonable cost. And it could also just be that you grew up in a family that ate more processed foods and just didn't have a lot of veggies because that's just what the culture in your family was. And the thing is, what you eat the most is what your taste buds adapt to. And so if you grew up on a diet of primarily processed foods, not including a lot of veggies, then of course your taste buds are not going to be used to those veggies and they're just not going to be appealing to you. Or maybe you are part of the clean plate club growing up and you simply weren't allowed to leave the table until your cold mushy veggies were done. And now you just can't stand them because of that memory and I you know, this is something I experienced as a child. I remember being Oh, I don't know, I was probably maybe five or six years old. It was winter. And my father had promised to take me out in the woods behind our house on the toboggan. And this was something that I loved to do, but I wasn't allowed to go until I finished my plate and all that was left on my plate was really cold congealed disgusting canned peas. Now I never even liked these to begin with. And now here I was forced to choke them down when they were cold and congealed and utterly disgusting. And to this day I gag when I look at canned peas, I can not even think about them without feeling queasy. And so maybe you have a story like that growing up that you just you just don't like veggies because of some of the stories or some of the memories that they bring to mind. And it may also be a case of what veggies do to your GI system. Right there are some veggies that are going to make some people be gassy and bloated or constipated and others that are going to make you feel great. And if you just happen to be eating veggies that make you feel like crap, then of course you're not going to want to eat any more of them. And in that case, our work is really to find different veggies that are going to work better with your particular digestive system.
And you know the other thing that could be at play is perhaps you are actually preparing veggies on a regular basis, but you're eating the other foods on your plate first because you prefer them and by the time you get to the veggies you're full and you just don't want to eat them so it's not so much a matter of not liking the veggies or not preparing the veggies so much as it is you're just displacing the veggies out by eating the other. The other things on your plate first. Now, we've looked at all of these various reasons why you might not like the veggies, but there are great reasons why we should be including them as part of a healthy diet. And you know, none of these are going to be surprising to you right veggies contain micronutrients, micronutrients and vitamins and antioxidants and anti cancer chemicals that keep us healthy. Right? And we know this right? If you don't get enough vitamin C you get scurvy. If you don't get other certain vitamins or micronutrients, you actually get symptoms from those deficiencies. And believe it or not, you know, as an emergency physician, I see this from time to time in the emergency department. We are not immune to having vitamin deficiencies just because we live in this modern world of plenty if you're not actually consuming the foods that contain them. Then you are at risk for deficiencies and so that's one really important reason why we need to be eating them. Another reason is that they really provide a wonderful, healthy natural source of fiber. And fiber is super important for lots of reasons. It helps digestion. But it's also what we need to feed the microbiome and science has really come over the last, you know, five or six years to understand just how important the microbiome is not just to our health overall, but to our weight and weight management as well. So super important for us to get fiber when we're on a weight loss journey. And another thing related to weight loss is that veggies have a whole lot of volume, but not a lot of calories. And so they actually along with the fiber help us feel fuller for longer without giving too much of a caloric load. So super helpful for us on the weight loss journey. And then related to that, of course is a huge amount of water in most veggies. Water is needed to help the fiber. Water is also needed for all of our biochemical processes in the body. And drinking water still is something many of us struggle with myself included. And so eating veggies is just another great way to sneak a little bit more water into your diet
and so how can we actually start to get you including more veggies on your diet? Well, I've got three little tricks for you. Experiment, combine and sweeten and I'll just describe them a little bit more. So first experiment, and this just make this fun, right think of a way that you could incorporate a new vegetable that you've never tried before. Or perhaps an old vegetable that you've had before but don't like prepared in the new way. How can you experiment? So a couple of examples here is you could pick a veggie that you normally wouldn't eat when you're out at the grocery store or out in a restaurant and just bring that home or order it and give it a try. And if you do this, I do recommend that you keep an open mind right because research suggests that we may actually need to try new foods several times before we actually learn to like them. Our brains are naturally designed to be cautious rather than curious. And so if you're not immediately in love with it, it's probably because your brain is just you know, trying to be cautious and making sure that it's protecting you in the best way it knows how. So do allow yourself at least a few times to try this new veggie before you. You pass judgment on it in any sort of final way. And great idea to just research how to prepare it best and to experiment with it and kind of figure out if you like it or not. And this is something that I did a few years ago, when my husband and I lived back in Toronto during my residency. There just was not a lot of time for us to cook. And so we started getting some things delivered and we had one weekly delivery of organic fruits and vegetables that used to come every single week. And now that we've moved to Edmonton, we found another service and we have literally been getting something like this delivered every week for the last six or seven years. And it's been a great thing for us. But the point is when we first started doing this we would encounter veggies that I had never even heard of before or that I had heard of but had no idea what to do with them. And because they came in this box, I had no choice to either figure out how to use them or they would just go to waste. And we spent a lot of money on this. So wasting just didn't feel like an option for us. So you know there was this. We got Jerusalem artichokes when when we had absolutely no idea what the hell they were, and I had to get on Google and I went on Facebook and asked friends and you know found different ways to prepare these artichokes and turns out that they were actually really easy to prepare and super delicious. And had I ever even seen them in the grocery store. There's no way I would have bought them because I had no idea what they were so that was just such an excellent experiment for us there. There were also parsnips one month and of course I know what parsnips are. I see them in the grocery store all the time, but it's just not a veggie that I ever grew up with and didn't really know how to prepare it so just never bought them. And I remember the week that we got the parsnips that came with a little recipe card for making noodles. Out of the parsnips in to replace like spaghetti noodles similar to zoodles right, making noodles out of zucchini, you can make noodles out of parsnips. Turns out this is one of my most favorite things in the whole wide world. I find that spiralised parsnips and a tomato sauce sauce is one of my most favorite things. And I never would have known it had I not tried this and you know we've had people over for dinner in the past and we'll we'll make a pasta dish and we'll actually do it half pasta half parsnips and people don't even notice. Right it's just so delicious. It blends in quite nicely and we feed our guests veggies without them even knowing we also had n dives one one week come in this box and I had no frickin clue what to do with n dives and ended up finding some beautiful recipes that I still continued to make to this day with the N dives and all of that came with just experimenting with new new veggies and new ways of preparing veggies. And so if you are used to boiling you're steaming your broccoli and you're absolutely sick and tired of it. Try roasting it right so not just trying new veggies but trying all veggies in new ways can be a great way to find a few veggies that you can add to your diet that you actually enjoy. So that's number one experiment.
The second tip that I have for you is actually combining veggies and if the issue is that you don't like the bitterness of veggies, then try cooking them in different ways that make them sweeter, such as roasting them right or combine them with other foods that you love to tone down that bitterness. So like here's a great example. My husband hates brussel sprouts. Or at least I should say he used to hate brussel sprouts. I wasn't even allowed to bring them into the house. That's how much he disliked them. But he grew up eating boiled brussel sprouts and found them bitter and disgusting. And I tried this you know sheet pan chicken recipe once with brussel sprouts in there. So they were roasted, he thought but he thought that they were the most delicious things ever roasted. Now we get them all the time but we only ever roast them right and so he absolutely hates brussel sprouts. Boiled but things are the best thing on earth if they're roasted. So just another example of how cooking them in a different way can actually really help and if you just throw a bunch of veggies on a cookie sheet with a couple chicken breasts and put it in the oven with some spices. It's a really easy simple meal and a great way to get veggies that tastes nice and sweet without that bitter flavor.
Another thing that you can do is really just add veggies to things that you're eating already. So if you like to have fruit smoothies in the morning or for a snack just as spinach, I promise you you do not taste the spinach in there. It changes the color and makes it look like swamp water, but it actually tastes just fine. And so you can do that to add some of your greens to your diet. And then you can also add things to the veggies themselves to help so you know back to the broccoli exam example. I've never been a big fan of broccoli I struggle eating broccoli. I love it roasted. But I don't always have the time to roast my broccoli and so just steaming them and then adding a little bit of lemon juice, garlic and red pepper flakes. And somehow that totally transforms broccoli for me. And like that that is just a great way to make veggies taste just a little bit better. I find combination of lemon juice and red pepper flakes works really well with many veggies.
Last night I actually tried roasting carrots with fennel seeds, and oh my god it was like the best thing ever. Right? So just experiment with different ways of cooking veggies and combining them with different foods along with different spices to see if you can find something that appeals more to your taste buds.
And then the third tip is to sweeten your veggies up now sweet or salty as well as fatty flavors can really alter your brain's perception of that bitterness, making it so much easier to choke down the veggies. So you know I talked before about how I like to cook my broccoli. I find also adding like toasted slivered almonds makes a huge difference to the taste of broccoli. I love doing that as well. And you can add a little bit of honey or maple syrup, just to give that little bit of sweetness or even just a little bit of olive oil can really spice up or sweeten up I guess I should say many veggies and in fact if you do a combination of a little bit of honey or maple syrup, and roast the veggies, it is absolutely divine. It literally tastes like dessert and get you get all of those wonderful benefits of the veggies. So consider adding any of these things even adding like soft cheese, like I find it like you don't want to add a whole block of cheddar like that's not going to be productive to your goals but adding a little bit of soft cheese to veggies can make a huge a huge difference as well. That's something that I love to do with salads. I'll just add a little bit of crumbled goat cheese or crumble Fetta and that just makes a huge, huge difference for me. All right, so those are some three little tricks that you can employ to bring a little bit more veggies into your life. Experiment, combine and sweeten.
Alright, so what we'd like you to do with these little experiments is come up with a list of veggies you like and that your body digests well without giving you any bloating or any other sort of GI symptoms and that you can afford obviously and that of course aligns with your culture or your personal food preferences and is absolutely delicious for you and you don't need 50 different veggies just have four or five maybe six little options that you can rotate over the course of a week or a month to add more veggies to your repertoire. And then just get into a habit of experimenting on a regular basis. So every time you go grocery shopping, just take a look through the produce aisle and just see if there's something new that you'd like to try or spend a little bit of time on Google or in a recipe book cookbook, finding new ways to prepare veggies just to keep it a little bit new and exciting for you. And if you are sitting here listening bulking up the idea of eating more veggies Trust me, I get it. So I've got a few mindset tricks to help you out with this as well. And the first of course is to forget all of your diet rules. There's just no room for them in positive displacement just like there's no room for them in deciding you have to cut out the quote unquote bad foods either. You may have some ideas that veggies have to be cooked in a specific way or only eaten raw for example to get their full nutritional value. And well some of these ideas you have may actually be right. The truth is that getting some veggies cooked in any way is better than getting no veggies at all right. So if you prepare veggies in the way that you think they should be prepared optimally, but you hate the tastes of them prepared that way, then you're just not going to eat them. And I'd much rather have you eating some veggies prepared in a suboptimal way than no veggies at all. So just get rid of those Diet Rules and find the balance right. Forget the rules, find the balance and then the second thing is remember to be realistic with this and allow yourself to start where you actually are. So if you currently aren't eating any veggies at all as part of your diet, for example, the the right thing to do is not decide to eat them with every single meal all of a sudden it's just unrealistic. Your taste buds and your GI system is just not going to adapt to that and you're going to give up on adding veggies pretty quickly. And so what I prefer you do is look at what you're doing already and brainstorm little ways that you can add veggies in every once in a while. Right so you know for example, if you're already making pasta regularly, is there a way you can just simply add some veggies? Can you add some peppers or some spinach or some mushrooms to your sauce and add veggies simply by adding them into what you're cooking already? Or can you add lettuce in a tomato to your sandwich or can you add a side of carrots to your sandwich right? Just look at little ways to add veggies into the routine that you already have. And then again, just be realistic. So if you're not eating any veggies, maybe start with just having three servings a week and you know take it from there. Start small and be consistent and then you can add more as you get used to it. And then finally, you know I suggest looking online at recipe resources or through cookbooks or go spend some time in the library looking at some books or maybe even ask some friends how they prefer to eat their veggies. If you got salad fiends in your life or you know people who love veggies are always eating them just pick their brains for a little bit and see if you can get some tips for adding delicious veggies to your diet. The key with this though, is you can experiment with all of these fun things that you find during your research or the tips that your friends give you. But what you need to do is find what works best for you at the end of the day. So experiment if you don't like it, or if it's too expensive for your budget, or if it gives you gut rot or bloating then don't eat it anymore. But if you find something that you enjoy and you can afford it and it fits in with what you want in terms of your meals, then by all means put them on your list. And so what I challenge you to do over the course of the next month or so is develop a list of three to five veggies that you can rotate through that you enjoy and we can start doing that positive displacement right away.
Alright friends, that is what I have for you this week. I hope you found this helpful, and I look forward to chatting with you again next week. Ciao. For now.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai