How to make eating healthy not taste bad

Are you sick of sacrificing flavor just to eat healthily or lose a little weight? Well, you don’t have to! Stay true to the flavors of your culture and still find healthy tweaks.

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When someone wants to eat healthy, but they just don’t like the taste of healthy foods… what can they do?

First, Dr. Tyree M.S. Winters, a board-certified osteopathic pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist at Goryeb Children’s Hospital in New Jersey says, take it slow.

“When I have patients who are very enthusiastic about wanting to start a healthy diet, I have to guide them to be more reasonable and to start off slow,” says Winters.

Dr. Tiffani Bell, a physician board-certified in adult psychiatry, child psychiatry, lifestyle and obesity medicine, agrees.

“I have a lot of patients who will eat fast food 10 times a week,” says Bell. “So we start off really small. Can you eat maybe just one meal a day of fast food? They also have grilled nuggets at some places. You can get fruit instead of fries. It’s really the small things.”

Portrait of young afro couple cooking together and using mobile phone in the kitchen at home. Relationship, cook and lifestyle concept. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

In the video above, Drs. Bell and Winters break down the best ways to eat healthy without losing the flavor, whether healthy versions of soul food or food native to particular Caribbean or African cultures.

Adjust your expectations of favorite dishes.

“I like collard greens for instance,” says Bell. “But they have the meat and some fats and they have things that taste good, but I’m not going to eat it that way every day. So for me, I go into it saying, ‘this [healthy version] may be good, but it may not be mama’s greens, but I’m still going to enjoy it.’”

Hide the veggies, even from yourself.

If you can’t stomach the taste of certain vegetables, be creative. Combine them with ground meat when making burgers or meatballs. Or, blend them into smoothies along with fruit to mask the taste.

Change up the cooking methods.

Vegetables and even fruit can taste very differently raw compared to cooked. “I am still not a big fan of cooked carrots, but I love raw carrots now,” says Winters. “And I always thought I didn’t like carrots. I didn’t like the actual preparation.”

(Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Use almond or coconut flour instead of white flour for fewer carbs and sugars.

For people who are watching how many carbs and sugars they’re consuming, almond flour or coconut flour may be a great alternative. Two keto pancakes, for example, made with almond flour has 40 fewer grams of carbs than traditionally-made pancakes. Chicken can also be breaded in almond or coconut flour and air fried or baked.

Trick your taste buds!

People of African descent who struggle with high blood pressure need to be mindful of total sodium intake (not just table salt!). Adding vinegar, lemon and Italian dressing to certain foods can trick the taste buds into tasting more salt (and sodium) than there actually is.

Let kids pick the “vegetable of the day.”

The point is to get everybody involved and make it feel less forced, says Bell. If the child feels as though he or she has the power to choose, the more likely the vegetable will be eaten.

Watch the video for more hacks and tips from the experts, including:

  • Add flavor instead of salt
  • Read food labels
  • Use the healthy plate portion model
  • Sweeten with fruit or Swerve instead of sugar
  • Pick a healthy cooking oil (or just use the air fryer)
  • Replace oil with applesauce in baked goods
  • Use fresh ingredients instead of processed food

Also, check out Dr. Lauren’s book, Food Essentials for the Busy Professional, and get her free cookbook here for more healthy tips!

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