I am an “all foods fit” kinda dietitian. When I tell people this, they sometimes get a bit confused because people often think of registered dietitians as the food police. BUT, in my case, this couldn’t be further from the truth. My goal is to work with my clients to help them use a mindful and intuitive eating approach to enjoy food AND achieve their health goals. These two things are NOT mutually exclusive.
There are valid medical, religious, and moral reasons why individuals may need or want to avoid certain foods – in those cases dietitians can be a great support to help optimize nutrition and wellbeing. However, I don’t promote putting arbitrary restrictions on the foods that we eat. Nor, do I think that it is healthy to vilify specific foods or food groups. Creating unnecessary food rules can harm our relationship with our body and how we nourish ourselves.
Ok. So, why am I telling you this? Well, many clients come to me with a restriction mindset. They may have tried numerous diets in the past and have a history of weight cycling. They start by asking me to help them cut out certain foods from their diet – sugar, gluten, carbs etc. As I explain my approach to food and health, we usually start focusing on what people can ADD into their diets to make them feel good instead of focusing on foods to avoid. This strategy works well but I do find that there is always a segment of people that will reluctantly tell me that they feel like they should increase their vegetable intake but they don’t like vegetables or their kids refuse to eat vegetables. At this point, we hit a bit of a roadblock (usually a temporary one) because I never encourage people to force themselves or their kids to eat food they don’t like.
But here is the thing, I am fully convinced that anyone who tells me that they themselves or their kids hate vegetables, has just not been sufficiently exposed to vegetables or has not been exposed to them in a positive way and is likely overriding some of their internal hunger cues. I mean, seriously, “you hate all vegetables?” – there are so many different types and so many different ways of preparing them – I feel confident we will be able to find something that works! And think about it, most of us have had the experience where we go a few days eating high fat, processed foods and then realize that our body is absolutely craving a fresh salad.
So, really what I am suggesting is that something has gone wrong in the feeding relationship (either the parent-child feeding relationship or the self-feeding relationship). Here are some of the main problems that I encounter: 1) they were pressured to eat vegetables as a child and as a result have developed a negative relationship with them, 2) they may have had very little exposure to vegetables – perhaps not offered to them as kids, 3) the vegetables that they have been exposed to just haven’t been shown enough love – maybe they were overcooked, bland, and really just offered as an afterthought, and 4) due to previous negative feeding/eating experiences they are ignoring internal cues telling them to eat vegetables. If a client identifies with any of these scenarios, we then dig into past experiences with vegetables and can usually find a way to repair this relationship.
You can read more about my thoughts on vegetables and intuitive eating by clicking on the 4 images below:
I work with clients to help them learn how to prepare vegetables so that they taste delicious! Vegetables often taste best when they have enough seasoning (herbs, spices, fats, vinegars, sauces, and dressings) and are cooked in a variety of ways (raw, roasted, baked, steamed, broiled, grilled). I find it helpful to have a few basic items, such as salad dressing prepped ahead of time. I make really good salads! And you can too! Below is my family’s favourite all-purpose dressing. I often make a batch on the weekend as part of my meal prep and add different herbs and flavourings to it throughout the week to mix things up. Give it a try!
- Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
- 2 Tbsp Honey (use Maple Syrup if you will be feeding to children under 1 year of age)
- 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/2 cup cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup water (may need more or less depending on desired consistency)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Use a blender to mix together mustard, honey, and vinegar.
- With blender running on low, slowly pour in olive oil. Don’t add too fast or the dressing won’t emulsify properly.
- Add water as needed to adjust to preferred thickness.
- Add salt & pepper to taste.
- Instead of using a blender, you can whisk together the ingredients by hand or put them in a mason jar and give them a good shake. If done this way, the vinaigrette will separate and need to be re-whisked or shaken right before using.
- If you can afford to – invest in a good quality apple cider vinegar – meaning, not the shelf-stable apple cider vinegar that comes in the plastic jug in the grocery store. I prefer a raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurized version that requires refrigeration (and has that kinda gross looking cloudy solid mass, called a MOTHER , in the bottom of the bottle). Filsingers is the brand I usually keep on hand.
- I use this dressing as is or as a base to make more adventurous dressings. Add in crushed garlic, ground spices, or fresh herbs. For the dressing pictured in this post I also added in 1 clove of crushed garlic and 2 Tbsp of fresh chopped herbs (tarragon, basil, flat leaf parsley.)
- Without the garlic/herbs, the dressing will keep in the fridge for several weeks. Once you add garlic/herbs the dressing should be used within a couple of days. The olive oil will harden in the refrigerator so you can take the salad dressing out of the fridge and leave it at room temperature while you prepare your salad.
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