Why It’s So Hard to Eat Vegetables

Eating vegetables is one of the top “habits” recommended by nearly all health professionals.

My questions is, who doesn’t know this?

Does your (referring to fitness gurus/health pros) voice carry so much influence as to override our previous inability to conquer perceived obstacles?  Seeing as how now YOU said it, you must have bestowed on us a new, more, productive perspective on the matter.

I hope you can sense my sarcasm, here.

Because, unfortunately, this is an anomaly I have yet to see for myself.

Simply saying ‘eat more vegetables’, in my experience, produces less that effective results. In most, if not all, cases we are merely restating a fact the majority of us are privy to.

I guess, then, the next question is

Why don’t we?

Well first there is the problem of motivation.  Eating more vegetables is not a goal meant to inspire.  We are not moved to action by visions of broccoli and cauliflower.  In most cases consuming a sufficient amount is more a means to an end.  The objective is habit based, and therefore, lower on the hierarchical model when reviewing goals that matter.  In other words it doesn’t ‘mean’ much to us, unless we can make it so.  Therefore, thwarting short term gratification experienced from indulging in other, more palatable, options becomes another hurdle we must negotiate our way over.

Then there’s the issue of skill development. If you lack some inherent skill that would make eating vegetables possible, convenient, and/or preferred, then it is not likely that your plan of action will come to fruition. To be more specific, if you do not know how to shop for them at the grocery store, if your abilities in the kitchen are sub par, thus leading to more unsavory creations, or if you lack the fundamental knowledge of what constitutes a vegetable (and these are just to mention a few) then your chances of success decrease by a much greater margin.

Then we must look at the nature of our current relationships.  We would be remiss if we did not address the amount of influence our relationships have on our decision making processes. Who we affiliate ourselves with creates our perception of normal.  We also tend to make decisions congruent with our peer groups as means to build rapport, connection, and/or avoid ridicule; all of which tend to be far more important than that salad your trainer may want you to eat.  So if your current relationships do nothing to help you foster the habit of ‘eating vegetables’, then you may find yourself in a bit of a predicament.

Next lets review our surroundings.  Our environment plays a role, silently influencing our behaviors.  The same way your living room is designed to promote watching television, the other environments we place ourselves in, can also be seen as having an agenda. So it would be advisable to have a hand in its design, when possible, of course.

So now we can see how “eating vegetables” becomes a more complex problem than we had initially expected; and why simply stating the obvious by saying “eat more veggies” becomes incomplete and inadequate advice.

I use the example of “eating vegetables”, here, because it lends itself to the obvious.  This is common knowledge and yet, 87% of all Americans fail to consume the recommended daily amount.

What you see here is a common phenomenon.  Where seemingly rudimentary tasks, require much more intricate and thoughtful solutions.  I hope, you can agree, that taking a myopic perspective, severely handicaps our chances for success and that a multifactorial approach  is more suited to improve results.

Solutions that take into account:

  • Motivation/resolve
  • Skill Development
  • Personal and/or Professional Relationships
  • Environment

Will be the most effective way to create change, and overcome the challenges we most assuredly will face. And so In the series of posts to follow we will take a little closer look at each one of these factors and how we can use them to influence ourselves to make meaningful progress.