Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Really Want to Eat Paleo But...

A recent comment left on my blog by an anonymous visitor reads, "So how about a person who really wants to eat paleo but really hates vegetables?  What do I do?  I don't want to be miserable every time I eat..."  I've taken some time and thought about this a lot of different ways, but the answer always comes out the same and here it is - ready or not...

Let's first look at why vegetables are so darn important in the first place.  Mom was right - they're good for you!  From a nutrition standpoint vegetables are nutrient 'power-houses'.  Some vegetables score higher than others, but overall they are a great source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, etc.  Additionally, non-starchy vegetables are low in calories, and provide bulk to fill you up.  Vegetables also help to maintain a favorable acid/base balance in the body and blood. The Standard American Diet (SAD) favors acidosis - grains, dairy, salt (the chloride portion), and meats along with exercise contribute to a net acid load.  A state of acidosis results in bone demineralization, muscle catabolism, hypertension, exercise-induced asthma, stroke, kidney stones, etc...  Vegetables and fruits help reduce this acid load due to their alkalinity or base favoring properties. 

Okay, now to address the "I don't like vegetables" problem.  First, I've got a few questions.  You don't like ALL vegetables?  When is the last time you've tried them, how were they prepared and did you give them a fair shot, or go into it with the 'preconceived' notion that they were going to be awful?  The mind is very powerful and you have the ability to tell yourself that spinach, broccoli, etc. are going to taste terrible before even trying them.  My suggestion is to keep an open mind, try some new recipes and preparation methods.  If you don't like raw broccoli, try it steamed.  Sautee spinach into your eggs or meat.  Try roasting, grilling, and baking veggies with different herbs, spices, and oils.  Have fun and be creative.

Unfortunately, there is no substitute for the real thing - don't be fooled by 'green powders', pills or juices.  And, not eating vegetables is not an option if you "REALLY" want to eat Paleo.  Keep in mind that getting kids to try new foods can take 5-7 exposures to the food before it's accepted.  Give yourself time, your tastes will change and you will soon find that grilled zucchini, steamed broccoli, and spaghetti squash 'sound good'.  Remember your first experience with alcohol (beer, hard liquor, etc.), did you like it? 

Here's another way to look at it- do you like going to work every day?  Odds are probably not; but, you like the paycheck and benefits right?  If you "REALLY" want to eat Paleo and every single vegetable on this list makes you "miserable" then that might be the way to think about it.  Keep in mind the health, performance and appearance benefits a Paleo diet (with vegetables) will give you.  My hunch is, in time, you'll find you enjoy the way you feel so much that eating vegetables will actually be 'worth it'. And who knows, you may actually start liking them...  Hey, stranger things have happened!



  1. There's a lot of vegetables that are not potatoes that are not on your list. The primary one that is usually considered "non-starchy" that non-veg eaters often like is spaghetti squash.

    Brussels sprouts are on your list and have 11.1 carbs per cup cooked while spaghetti squash has 10.1

    Turnips only have 7.9 carbs per cup cooked, making them a good deal less starchy than sprouts (I love sprouts, but they are a tough sell to non veg eaters). Fresh turnips with the greens attached (like you find at the farmer's market) are fantastic, and most people have never tried them. The winter storage roots with no greens attached that are found at the grocery store no where near as good.

    Also, vegetable juice cocktail (I assume this is V8) is generally loaded with salt and it's cooked and pasteurized. If it were freshly made in one's own kitchen, that would be one thing, but how many people have a champion juicer?

  2. Flowerdew Onehundred- The attached list is in no way comprehensive. It's just a quick listing that I came across and thought it might make the point that vegetables include more than just broccoli and spinach... I'm sorry if this message was not conveyed. I'll be more specific next time. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Most people's diets are acidic at a microbiology level. That means our taste buds are tuned to things like sweets and starches. At first, switching to a more alkaline diet which includes more vegetables and less of the things not included in Paleo, your taste buds change and the vegetables begin to taste much better, especially if prepared well. I have done it myself and had to force myself a bit at first but it was soon just fine. Hope that helps.....

  4. Sandra-

    That's awesome information! Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience - evidence is the best defense!! :)
    Thanks for the Comment!

  5. You suggested: "...not eating vegetables is not an option if you "REALLY" want to eat Paleo."

    That's one way of trying to bound it -- however:
    "The Paleolithic climate consisted of a set of glacial and interglacial periods." The Inuit? The European Ice Age(s). Not all Paleolithic peoples ate veggies!

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