How to Develop Tastes for Healthy Food

Posted in Balanced Body, Balanced Nutrition | October 5, 2010 |

healthy eating habits

Image by rbbaird

Do you like pizza and ice-cream? Maybe you are a fan of fatty burgers and steaks? How about cupcakes and fried chicken? Chips, soft drinks, candy, french fries, chicken wings, fast food … Why can’t healthy food taste that good?

If you are one of thousands of people who know that they need to eat better but all their attempts to change their diet fail miserably then I have some great news for you. It is not your fault that your attempts fail (actually it is nobody’s fault; we are not looking for the guilty party here.) You just need to develop taste for healthy food before jumping into a new diet.

If you are used to eating burgers and pizza and then somebody tells you “From now on you can eat only steamed broccoli and occasionally baked chicken.” Your taste buds declare a war against you if you even try to put that chicken or broccoli in your mouth. The change is so drastic that your entire body including your brain simply refuses to accept these changes.

I’ve made the same mistake. I could survive for a few months eating extremely healthy but then I would crash. The minute I put a tiny piece of a cake in my mouth I felt like I was in heaven. It was pure bliss that I was missing for two months. I didn’t care about all the health and weight benefits of a healthy diet, I was polishing off cakes, pints of ice-cream and pizza. Have you been in my shoes?

Unfortunately I can’t make all the tasty stuff be completely healthy for you. But I can show you how to develop a taste for healthy food. It will take some time and discipline but you will be amazed with the results. Once your body gets used to healthy eating and all the extra energy that it gets from it you will not even want to turn back. You will be still able to enjoy your favorite meals or treats but you won’t be craving them all the time. This is a strategy that has helped me and my husband to start eating healthy, I am sure it will help you too.

  1. Educate yourself. It is much easier to find will power to do something new if you know exactly why you need it and how you are going to benefit from it. Read about health benefits of eating particular foods and avoiding others. This step will help you find the weakest links in your diet and get that extra motivation that you need.
    Modern documentary movies can give you plenty of food for thought. The movie Food, Inc. was a huge eye-opener for me. After watching it I buy only organic chicken and meat and watch carefully how I stock my pantry. Another food movie worth watching is Super Size Me.
    Basically in this step you are using the tactics of anti-smoking campaigns. Do you remember those times when they would put pictures of cancer infected lungs and other internal organs of a smoker on packs of cigarettes? That campaign worked pretty well in the US because there are a lot less smokers now. The truth is that bad eating habits can produce similar conditions in your body and elevate your risk of dying from any condition.
  2. Start by eliminating unhealthy foods. It is easier to eliminate things then to add something new to your diet. Look at the foods that you eat right now. Which ones are the unhealthiest? Which ones can you survive without? For example, if you love soft drinks then you can switch to juices first (choose the ones with no sugar added) to satisfy your sweet tooth and later on move to water or unsweet tea.
  3. Find healthy alternatives. Write down the list of your “happy” foods. These are the foods that bring you an instant mood boost and that you are craving when you are feeling blue or stressed out. Most of the time these are foods that you remember from your childhood. Do not eliminate those foods completely but look for healthier alternatives. For example, if you love French fries then you can try oven baked sweet potato fries. If you love ice-cream then you can freeze yogurt and top it off with some fruit or even chocolate syrup to satisfy your craving. Fix turkey or veggie burgers instead of regular ones. These are just a few ideas.
  4. Double up on your favorite healthy foods. Chances are that you already like certain healthy foods. Salads (be careful with the dressing), fruit and berries, beans, veggies – find any healthy foods in your diet and start substituting them for your unhealthy choices. I love dry fruit and I substitute it for candy when I am craving something sweet. Another trick that I use is mixing salads with low-fat dressing with some lean protein like turkey, grilled chicken or even steak.
  5. Add new healthy foods one bite at a time. It is difficult to start liking new foods but it is possible. The trick is to add that food into your meals in very small amounts. At first you can mix just a tinny bit into your favorite meal (e.g. add spinach to a meatloaf.) Next try maybe a tablespoon of that food cooked in different ways. It might take several months or even years to develop that new taste but it is still possible.
    Soon after I gave birth to my girls I had a food poisoning with salmon. I felt horrible for the entire week and needless to say I could not even smell salmon for a year after that (and I used to love it before the incident!) I started adding salmon just one tiny bite at a time. It took another year for me to get used to the taste of it again but now I have no problem eating it anymore.
  6. Combine your treats with healthy foods. It is important to keep your taste buds happy but you can easily trick them. If you love bacon you can crumble two pieces on top of a big salad instead of eating it with eggs and ham.
    If you love to snack on chips then add them as a treat at the end of your healthy meal (that way you will be able to eat less of them.)
    Mix 1 or 2 tablespoons of ice-cream with a big bowl of fruit and berries for a healthy desert.
  7. Become the master of spices. It is amazing how much flavor you add to your healthy foods (and 0 calories!) if you use the right spices. In my pantry I always have
    • Italian herb mix (great for pasta sauces),
    • chili powder (adds that extra burst of flavor to any meal),
    • garlic powder or minced garlic – adds flavor to practically any meal you are cooking; I especially love it with vegetables,
    • low sodium soy sauce – it is not a spice of course but it can liven up any rice meal (especially brown rice) and hide the fishy taste from almost any fish,
    • basil – easy Mediterranean flavor,
    • cinnamon – adds a warm and “happy” flavor to baked fruit, pies and of course oatmeal,
    • ground cumin – adds a warm and earthy taste to meat, beans and rice; it will add an Oriental flavor to any meal.

    There is a lot more to say about spices but these are just my top picks. You can learn more about the art of cooking with spices in How to Stock a Minimalist Spice Collection.

If you want to brush up on your cooking skills then I recommend that you download Jules Clancy’s Free Minimalist Cookbook. You can also check out healthy versions of your favorite meals on

Do you have your favorite healthy foods? Did you already change your eating habits to healthier ones? Do you have any questions about healthy eating? The comments below are open just for you. Please leave a comment and spread the word about this article. I greatly appreciate your feedback.

Keep it balanced!

P.S. I wanted to thank my loyal reader Patricia from Patricia’s Wisdom for giving Balance In Me the Cherry On Top Award. She has a wonderful blog full of inspirations and great advice. Thank you for supporting Balance In Me.

Smart Thoughts (7)

  1. I’m part of a CSA food share, which has forced me to eat a WHOLE lot of veggies. At first, it seemed like overload…although I ate many vegetables before, now I’m finding ways to incorporate them into every meal. Roasted zucchini, fennel, potatoes (and some bacon!) for breakfast? Yep, that’s me now. It’s totally true that after a while, your taste buds adjust and you start to CRAVE veggies and feel off-balanced without them! Great post Anastasiya!

    • Anastasiya says:

      It is truly amazing how our bodies adapt to a new lifestyle or food plan. I can’t even imagine going back to fatty and unhealthy meals – my body simply rejects that food. I never feel satisfied with a meal if I can’t add some veggies or fruit to it. It is truly amazing how much better your body starts to function when you give it healthy fuel.

  2. Adrienne says:

    Hi Anastasiya,
    Thanks so much for this post! It’s actuallu perfect timing for me. I recently returned from a 4 day yoga and medittion retreat where we were only given three healthy meals to eat every day. Everything was natural and simple with no added sugar and very little spice. The food didn’t taste amazing by any means, but it sure made my body feel amazing! I had more energy, stayed full longer, and experienced less stomach problems. I had heard that healthy, whole food would do that, but now I’m definitely a believer.

    However, after returning home, I’ve been struggling with how to incorporate healthy eating into my daily lifestyle. Unless you’re at a retreat, it’s almost impossible to just change your eating habits over night. Like you said, it may work for a little while, but it’s not likely to stick. I’m definitely going to check out the resources you suggested and try to incorporate these tips. Even cutting out crappy food will be a good start. As with most things, I think it will help to start slow and be kind to myself. :-)

  3. Patricia says:

    Another wonderful post and great idea sharing. And you are quite welcome for the award, it was my pleasure

    August of 2009 I decided to go cold turkey and just eat Vegan Raw, I lost 25 pounds in the next 6 weeks and followed Dr. Joel Furhman’s regime to the letter. I then dropped off because I got a virus in my liver (which it took until FEB 2010 to figure out what was wrong) and I was eating stim foods to counter balance the great fatigue I was experiencing. I slept away nearly 6 days of the month of January and one Dr. was saying I had diabetes and would not look further.

    By May 2010 I was back to mostly vegan with hot soup and a little salmon and occasional chicken. Wow do I feel better.

    I reviewed a book by Dr. Kessler on my blog, a pediatrician who is traveling the world now teaching folks about how fast food is chemically enhanced to make it as addicting as possible and reminding us that the American Food Industry was the American Tobacco Industry….It is an amazing study.

    Nutritionist blogger Suzen on Erasing the Bored is also writing about food addictions

    We need to keep sharing this information, because it is hard to change even if you know it is correct for you and particularly with a big system working to enslave one.
    Nice words today Thank you for sharing

  4. What we use as fuel is so very important to how we feel and function and you provided lots of great and easy tips to try. I would also stress cooking in bulk when possible. Lots of times we choose the comfort treats because they are easy and there. If you have a stash of great for you meals made in advance you can avoid that trap. I think watching liquids is a good idea too. If you are constantly drinking sugary sodas the delicate appeal of fruits and veggies won’t have the same pleasurable effects. Nicely written and shared. :)

  5. Robert J says:

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.