Poll: Are You a Healthy Foods Martyr?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  128 comments   :  22,852 Views

A few years ago, when this healthy living stuff was a little newer to me and my weight loss was recent, I was much stricter about what I ate.

Oat bran with plain yogurt and ground flax, salads with no dressing, shirataki noodles, and fat-free dairy were all a regular part of my diet. Those are all healthy foods. The trouble is: I thought they tasted awful.

I made myself eat them not because I wanted to eat them, but because I thought I should be eating them. By forgoing anything sweet in my morning yogurt, leaving the dressing off my salads and swapping real noodles for low-calorie ones, I thought I was making smart decisions. I would learn to like them, I thought.

In those days, I was a features copy editor at a large daily newspaper. I often ate breakfast and lunch at my desk. I would pull out my beige and white breakfast, dry salads and other wacky creations, and my co-workers would peer over the walls diving our cubes and cringe.

Crinkling their noses, they'd ask, "You're eating that?"

"Yes," I replied with a sigh. "It's good for me."

I was a Healthy Foods Martyr, forgoing taste for nutrition. Sure, there were plenty of healthy foods that I liked, but I thought I should also eat all healthy foods--even if they didn't taste good.

Grudgingly I ate my healthy breakfast and lunch, but it's no surprise that I would often break down and overeat at dinnertime. Even though my diet was full of healthy foods I did like, for some reason I thought I should also eat foods I didn't like.

Eventually, I stopped eating foods I didn't like (like the shirataki noodles and fat-free cheese that didn't) or modified them to be more palatable (some blueberries in the plain yogurt, cooked oat bran instead of raw).

With so many good-for-you foods out there, life is too short to eat the ones you dislike. I know that kale is a really nutritious green, but spinach, Swiss chard, arugula, and mixed baby greens are also nutritious. Lower-fat dairy has much more flavor and better texture than fat-free does, in my opinion. And whole-wheat pasta is filling and nutritious.

My diet is probably healthier now that I allow myself to eat the healthy foods I like, and I overeat less than I did back then. I look forward to my next meal instead of dreading it. To me, that's worth it!

If you're having trouble learning to like any healthy food, read more:

Learn to Love Vegetables: 8 Tips
How to Meet Your Protein Needs without Meat
Whole Grains are the Whole Package
11 Dairy-Free Calcium Sources

Do you force yourself to eat healthy foods you don't like? Which ones?

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    I will try any healthy food, but if I don't like it, I stop buying it. Sometimes I will think of ways to incorporate it so that its taste is "overcome" by other tastes which then make it delicious, but if it's a strong taste and I hate it - good-bye! Life is too short to hate what you're eating. - 4/20/2010   10:14:03 AM
  • 77
    For me, the real discovery was fresh veggies and all the great-tasting creations you can make with them. Much better than bland-tasting supplements and better for me too! - 4/20/2010   10:11:38 AM
    I couldn't agree more, it's a lot easier if you enjoy what you are eating.
    I learned many years ago that if I eat until I am no longer hungry instead of eating until I am full, I can maintain a healthy weight. It still works. Eat what you like, just not so much that you gain weight. - 4/20/2010   9:57:21 AM
  • 75
    I'm with you! I really dislike fat free dairy and won't eat it. I tried shirataki noodles and thought they were like eating slimy rubber bands, so I don't do that either. We don't care for whole wheat pasta in our house, so I get a high fiber, high protein white pasta that we enjoy instead. I think it's far more important to choose healthy foods that you will LOVE instead of eating things because you're *supposed* to. I firmly beileve that one of the reasons people who are trying to lose weight fail is because they think they are going to have to eat horrible food for the rest of their lives. It creates a feeling of deprivation and, as noted, sets you up for a huge binge on "good" foods once your will power wears out. - 4/20/2010   9:39:35 AM
  • 74
    No I make sure I enjoy what I eat. - 4/20/2010   9:24:41 AM
  • 73
    As a post-op gastric bypass patient, I've learned that I only have so much room for food in my new stomach, so I only eat exactly what I want. It's a very satisfying way to eat. I still do try new foods. I am particular about my pasta, because I can only eat a very small amount at a meal. I like whole wheat pasta, and have tried several kinds to find the one that tastes the best to me. I am willing to try anything, but am not interested in eating things that don't taste good to me on a regular basis. - 4/20/2010   9:05:56 AM
  • 72
    I like a lot of foods, but I also know how to dress the ones that are less palatable for me. If I try something that I think is healthy, but that I actually don't like, then I don't eat it again. Since the beginning, I've followed SparkPeople's advice to work through this as a lifestyle. I never liked dieting. And I'm simply figuring out how to eat foods that are tasty in the portions that are appropriate for my body. I'll definitely be practicing that the rest of my life.

    In my taste adventures, I've learned that I actually do like applesauce, bananas, yogurt and oatmeal. All of these are or have now been a regular part of my nutrition, but I avoided them before because I didn't like the texture. I'm happy to have expanded my palate, and gathered more options. ;) - 4/20/2010   9:02:09 AM
  • 71
    It's been a process of changing and making additions through SP and studying articles on health and nutrition. I now enjoy everything mentioned with one exception. Shirataki noodles, being a retired Chef I'm of the opinion that food sould have a aroma not a odor. There are plenty of things like buckwheat noodles and many other grains that taste fine and are healthy. Just go to a health food store, considering we at SP are practicing portion controll, it makes it cost effective due the the porions per package vs the cost per portion. Plus most of them have bulk purchasing of many staples and spices...Chef Jim - 4/20/2010   8:04:15 AM
    Ewww...shirataki noodles! I'll second MDTWEETY's sentiments about it. Nowadays, there are so many low-fat, low-sugar dressings and other accompaniments for veggies, say, that I enjoy all of them. And it only takes a small amount of a dressing to perk up veggies, too. - 4/20/2010   7:53:33 AM
  • 69
    I am definitaley open to new tastes, but I won't go overboard, I know some of the members just drink those healthy concoctions done in a blender, but to me that is depriving yourself of sitting down to a wonderful, healthy meal, that is a pleasure!Since coming to Spark I have learned to cook differently, eat in moderation, and try all those different veggies and fruit! I am open to trying anything, but if I just plain don't like it....I don't eat it! - 4/20/2010   7:34:54 AM
  • 68
    No! Life is to short! - 4/20/2010   7:10:25 AM
  • 67
    Nope! - 4/20/2010   6:49:37 AM
  • 66
    No, I agree - life's too short to eat foods you don't like. Ick, shirataki noodles! - 4/20/2010   6:46:53 AM
  • 65
    There are too many tasty ways to get the same nutrition - why force yourself to eat the untasty? I have found, however, that there are some exceptions - whole grains take some getting used to - but now I can't stand the refined versions! - 4/20/2010   6:36:21 AM
  • 64
    I like good foods that are good for me and I've gravitated toward them for a long time. A diet is after all, the food that I regularly eat. I also eat what I like and I'm a good cook. I don't need junk food. I do need to control portions and not eat when I'm not hungry, now that's something to work towards! - 4/20/2010   6:01:55 AM
  • 63
    I don't eat foods I don't like. I will however try something more than once before I decide it's a "no." Interesting that I have a package of the shirataki noodles in the fridge. It will be my first time trying them. I love noodles so, we'll see! - 4/20/2010   5:46:31 AM
  • 62
    I look forward to eating healthy meals. I love oatmeal in the morning and having my homemade veggie soup during the day. And I don't miss junk food. (I guess I am lucky that way.) - 4/20/2010   5:37:34 AM
  • 61
    I eat healthy everyday and never eat what I don't like. I always look forward to my next meal and love to eat! - 4/20/2010   4:48:04 AM
  • 60
    I can't imagine eating plain yogurt without putting in fresh fruit. It is so delicious that way! I eat plenty of things that I love (brie cheese on a low-cal cracker - yum!), moderation is always key, and don't "mindlessly eat" anything while watching TV, surfing the internet, etc. Pay attention to your food, savor it, drink lots of fluids (I love tea, and so many teas have great flavor without using sugar.)

    2MUCHTV is quite right: "Eventually, your taste buds change, and you prefer the healthy stuff over the unhealthy stuff (white rice, EWWWWWWW. Brown, yum!) The only problem is that you'll end up hating restaurant food. Too salty."
    - 4/20/2010   4:32:37 AM
  • 59
    SP taught me to prepare healthy foods MUCH tastier. I roast all kinds of veggies with spices, create great salads and slow cook more. I don't like brussel sprouts so don't eat 'em. I eat lots of broccoli, cauli & asparagus--and loads of spinach (even in my blueberry smoothie). I avoid processed diet foods--even if they taste yummy. - 4/20/2010   3:00:59 AM
  • 58
    i'm not sure what the point would be in eating things one does not enjoy. that's not what life should be about... - 4/20/2010   1:37:05 AM
  • 57
    Great blog! Life is indeed too short to eat foods you don't like all the time, or to always pass up the things you love.

    Occasionally I make myself eat oatmeal, an apple, chick peas, or a banana when I'm just not in the mood, because I know they are good for me. I do like these things, but I can't always get in the mood for them. Usually I can find enough healthy foods that I love eating, and I like most foods, so I don't usually have to force myself to eat things. - 4/20/2010   1:29:44 AM
  • 56
    I was so not a fruit & veggies eater as a kid. I learned to like them more as I got older. When my kids were small it seemed east just to grab snacks & prossesed stuff a lot. The last 10-15 years I've done a better job eating healthier. For the last few years I really stopped eating fruits very much, so I did sort of force myself to eat more fruits, and more salads, & plenty of water. I've really learned to love healthy foods overall. My body prosseses them so much better to, & my appetite is more satisfied. - 4/20/2010   12:40:04 AM
    I'm a fan of butter, full fat dairy, whole eggs, skin on my chicken, and red meat. It's filling and satisfying. When I do the "whole grain, low fat, no flavor" route, I overeat. When I went vegan, I developed the beginnings of arthritis. Eating more fat, I'm losing weight! - 4/20/2010   12:18:27 AM
  • 54
    Sometimes but I really try to find foods that are good and good for me. - 4/19/2010   11:55:19 PM
  • 53
    So, in my opinion, life is way to short to be a food martyr. I strive to make good choices, but I don't eat salad every day cause I should. It actually is quite irritating when I feel like someone is "sticking to their diet" every minute of every day because realistically..........we both know they can't do that forever. That is why it is a lifestyle change and not a diet. Moderation!!!!!!! - 4/19/2010   11:52:39 PM
  • 52
    I USED to be like that, but now I genuinely like healthy foods. If I eat at a friend's house, I always eat a little of whatever is being served just to be polite, but when I get home again it's back on the wagon for me!! - 4/19/2010   10:30:30 PM
    Years ago when I was a teen, I would eat plain canned tuna, only adding salt and pepper. It was awful, but I thought it would help me lose weight. I can't stand to eat tuna of any kind now! - 4/19/2010   10:29:47 PM
  • 50
    Rice cakes were the worst "diet" food I've ever eaten. I like most fruits and vegetables so I decided why torture myself with rice cakes. I would never stay on any food plan that called for eating them. - 4/19/2010   10:10:27 PM
  • 49
    Heck no, I'm pretty much the total opposite. lol - 4/19/2010   9:36:42 PM
  • 48
    I don't do artificial sweeteners unless I am thirsty and have no choice but to have a pop or am trying a product that has been recommended (Source Lemon Meringue Parfait Yogurt rocks). I don't do margarine, I'm all about butter. Having said that though, I drink skim milk because I have dieted since I was a kid and got to like it more than the other types of milk. I am not much of a bread eater (see previous sentence) but I make good choices about the bread that comes into the house (or that's made in the bread machine hubby insisted we needed) these days because I have a three year old.

    When I was in counselling for a food disorder years ago, the instructor suggested that take the time to figure out what we really *really* want to eat and eat that. In moderation, of course. That works pretty well for keeping the binges at bay. - 4/19/2010   9:30:10 PM
    I am always willing to try new foods, except for sushi... There are a lot of "junk foods" that I don't like and a lot of "healthy foods" that I do like... I've never really been a junk food eater, I was just one that always ate too much!!! So, no I don't think I have ever really tried that I didn't like that was "healthy" unless it was like eating a salad with no dressing, I can't do that... And maybe Okra... But most everything else I like... Just to give you an idea, my two favorite foods/veggies are asparagus and brusselsprouts... That may sound really funny coming from a 29-year old female... But they really are my two favorites... - 4/19/2010   9:20:46 PM
  • 46
    Thanks for this post. It helps to relieve some of the guilt I feel for not eating the healthy foods I don't like. You are right, there are just too many other foods to choose from. I will try to eat most anything at least once, and have often tried many times to eat some foods. As for so-called diet foods, most contain lots of chemicals which make them less healthy than a controlled portion of the original food, so I don't worry about not liking those. - 4/19/2010   9:14:42 PM
  • 45
    Love this blog - 4/19/2010   8:57:14 PM
  • 44
    I eat a lot of healthy foods, so I'm not concerned about disliking some. Raw carrots and celery, for instance, I can do without. Kale is disgusting.

    Most other fruits and vegetables are fine by me! - 4/19/2010   8:48:00 PM
  • 43
    i kept trying to like sweet potatoes. so many people rave about them. i tried them three different times; three different ways. still, no go. *gag* three strikes, you're out, sweet potatoes..... - 4/19/2010   8:39:56 PM
  • 42
    The most important thing is to find a way of living that is the healthiest that you can maintain without giving up. That means knowing yourself as to what you can't live with (foods you don't like and never will) and knowing yourself as to what you can't live without (things you would miss so much that you'll find a way to work them in to a healthy program).

    I take a lot of heat from the holier than thou 'health nuts' who make me feel as if it's a mortal sin to drink Crystal Light rather than 100% straight water all the time. But for me, that's a step up from all the diet soda I was drinking...and I simply cannot STAND the taste of plain water all the time (it actually makes me nauseous if I drink a lot of it) - I need flavor - GOOD flavor. Not like the taste of the tap water around here. And I will not pay money for water.

    Same with 'real' jam. I have always liked Hero Strawberry Preserves....and I have always detested low-cal jam (and have tried several of them - including all the gagilicous 'natural' flavors). To me, there is a HUGE taste difference. And for the amount of preserves I eat a week (maybe 1 tablespoon a week), it is just not saving myself that many calories to gag down that nasty low-cal stuff.

    My sister is this way about salad dressing. I'm good with lite dressing...but she can't stand any them. I get it, and so I leave her alone - not everyone can make the same substitutions and choices with equal success, and we all just need to do what we can. She's good with low-cal jam, after all!

    I think this is a really important attitude to have - not just toward ourselves, but toward each other too. No judgment. No holier than thou preaching to each other. Just support for others for what they CAN do....and the improvements they can make.

    Even a few small improvements made on a permanent basis are better than a course of model eating that is so distasteful that it's given up completely within days.

    - 4/19/2010   8:34:53 PM
    I really never force myself to eat anything I don't like. I tend to like to try everything and If I don't like it, I won't eat it. - 4/19/2010   8:11:03 PM
  • 40
    Oddly enough I would have never eaten cottage cheese-2% ,raw tomato and yogurt if I hadn't been on a "diet" yrs. ago!! Now it is a lifestyle change and those listed are some of my favorite snacks! - 4/19/2010   8:05:27 PM
  • 39
    When I was growing up, my parents me forced to eat everything on my plate. I remember sitting at the table alone, crying in front of a plate of food that I hated. Now I NEVER eat anything that I don't like! These days, I am trying to eat healthy and clean foods. Trust me, I like all of them! - 4/19/2010   8:00:14 PM
  • 38
    I generally like everything except for a few exceptions. My problem is making the right choice because some junk food is just easier to grab and go. - 4/19/2010   7:59:21 PM
  • ACAD21SF
    I'm still having a hard time finding the happy medium of eating healthy foods and enjoying it. It is hard to get the "it's good for me so it has to taste awful" thoughts out of my mind. - 4/19/2010   7:46:00 PM
  • 36
    I'm definitely learning to eat more healthy foods and I don't believe I'm a martyr about it (anymore.) But I don't like when people criticize something I'm eating that I LIKE and is GOOD for me. They'll say something like "sounds too healthy"....like that's a BAD thing!! Or "sounds great" sarcastically. Who's eating it, ME or YOU? HAHA - 4/19/2010   7:06:33 PM
  • 35
    I just may be one...my husband calls what I eat "stuff", but occasionally says it looks good.

    I think I am getting better though. - 4/19/2010   6:18:48 PM
  • 34
    There are so many foods out there that are good for you, why eat ones you don't like! And there are a million ways to fix the foods that are "healthful" foods that are wonderful, so no, I don't choke down food, just because it is "good" for you, which is why I hate protein powders, can you say "chalk"? - 4/19/2010   6:14:00 PM
  • 33
    I will try most anything if I don't like it I will not eat it. I came from a clean your plate family. You ate what was put in front of you wheather you like it or not.
    I have to at least like the food somewhat to eat them. I will not eat FF cheese, and good for you margarines. give me the real thing in smaller portions. - 4/19/2010   6:13:08 PM
  • PRESHA911
    I do not force myself to eat any healthy foods I don't like. - 4/19/2010   6:06:49 PM
  • B2B2BA
    I believe in moderation in everything and being a martyr make you NO FUN to be around. I eat as healthy as I can and don't sweat the rest. The 80/20 rule works best for me. I am not going to sacrifice enjoying life for some vile tasting health food. - 4/19/2010   6:02:36 PM
  • 30
    Agree 100% with kellybw3 about butter and margarine. I would rather have 1/4 teaspoon of the real thing than 1 T of the nasty fake stuff!

    For years I tried to eat raw veggies like carrot sticks, broccoli, and cauliflower because I knew they were healthy & low-cal, but I absolutely hate them. Love them cooked, but not raw, but I thought I had to eat them raw. Now I won't eat anything I dislike just because it's healthy - why should I, when there are so many healthy foods that I do love!

    I won't eat fat-free cheese either - yuk! I love real cheese, so I just watch portion sizes and limit myself to a few times per week. I've noticed I don't even really taste the cheese on a sandwich, so I omit it, and save it to eat by itself where I can really savor the flavor. - 4/19/2010   5:48:12 PM
  • 29
    No. If I don't like it I want eat it. I just cut back on a food that I like. - 4/19/2010   5:46:25 PM

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