The problem with trying to get in on the healthy eating game is that while it looks like fun and games from afar, it's a completely different story when you're up close and personal.
If you've ever whipped up a batch of sugar-free, dairy-free sweet potato brownies you'll know exactly what I mean.
Yes, they look like heaven on a plate on those Instagram and Pinterest pictures, but in reality?
They taste like you'd rather go hungry.
There's only so much disappointment mere mortals can take, so if you've been eating natural wholefoods for weeks and still hate every single mouthful, no-one would blame you for throwing in the towel and finding comfort in a double cheeseburger with fries.
Don't... at least not until you've tried doing things a little differently. Because believe it or not, it really is possible to turn healthy eating from a miserable experience to a pleasurable one.
Stop eating foods you don't like the taste of
It's commonsense, but you'd be surprised at how many new healthy eaters do this. Just because everyone says quinoa and chia seeds are good for you doesn't mean you must eat them if you can't stand them. The key to turning healthy eating into a lifestyle is to find healthy foods you enjoy.
If, for example, you're struggling to find healthy carbs to replace your potato chip or white rice habit, do a little research into healthy versions of these foods. Go to a health food shop and look at the foods lining the shelves. Whip out your phone and Google some of them to see what others say they taste like and how you can add them to your diet. When you find a few new foods that sound delicious (at least in theory) buy a small portion and try them.
Stop treating recipes like science fiction... start actually making them
A classic mistake made by people who say they 'hate how healthy food tastes' is not getting adventurous. No one can live on plain egg white omelettes, broiled chicken breasts and lettuce leaves without going crazy. There are lots of amazing flavour combinations that don't involve sugar and artificial flavourings, you just have to go into the kitchen and start mixing things up to discover what you enjoy. Stock up on fresh herbs, spices and and natural fats (yes, that includes dairy and animal fats), as these are packed with flavour and really help transform bland meals.
Stop making healthy versions of your favourite dishes if they don't measure up
This is a contentious point, but it's one I firmly stand by. Say, for example, you love pizza, dissect what it is you love about it. If it's the crispy, yet fluffy bread base and rich creaminess of the cheese that gets your taste buds excited, making a pizza with a cauliflower base instead of bread, and creamed cashews instead of mozzarella simply isn't going to cut it.
Because it doesn't have the same flavours and textures that make you love pizza so much. Settling for this will just remind you of what you're missing and make you dislike your healthy lifestyle more. Why not allow yourself an actual pizza (with real bread and cheese) once in a while rather than cutting it out in totality. You'll find you'll be less resentful of eating healthily if you balance it with a less-than-healthy treat every so often.
Don't overhaul everything in one go
Perhaps you eat too much red meat, drink too much alcohol, eat way too much sugar and can't stay away from processed snacks. Trying to get rid of (or cut down on) all of these things in one fell swoop will most likely make you feel miserable. Instead, take it 3 weeks at a time.
They say it takes 21 days to make and break a habit, so focus on one dietary change per 21 days. Once you've gotten used to life with the first change, you can then move onto the next and spend another 3 weeks on that.
Indulge your cravings instead of fighting them
When you change your diet, your intake of specific macro- and micronutrients changes. As a result of this, you may find you have really strong cravings for certain foods you've cut out. If this happens, don't fight it. Instead, pay attention to what you're craving as this is your body telling you the exact nutrients it needs.
If you're craving something sweet, go ahead and have something naturally sweet like fruit - you may just have low blood sugar (chromium and magnesium deficiencies can also cause sugar cravings, so consider supplementing with these). And if you're craving something savoury, eating a few nuts, olives or cubes of cheese will be more beneficial for your body than chewing a piece of gum.
Indulging your cravings in this way will also help you to stop thinking of healthy eating as synonymous with deprivation.Suggest a correction