See this picture? This girl hates the sight of these vegetables. This was my view of vegetables too at her age. The only difference is – I didn’t grow out of it. I did not eat vegetables for the first 30 years of my life.
That may sound crazy to you but for me it was a real life phobia. Everyone has a food that they hate. They despise it and it makes them cringe at the mere thought of it. Imagine that food for you in your mind. Think of the look, texture and smell of it. Is your skin crawling yet? Now imagine it was on your plate every night and you were asked to ‘at least try it’ over and over. You tried very hard to keep any meat, rice or pasta away from it in case the flavour of it rubbed off on the stuff you could eat. That was the first 30 years of my life with vegetables. The only vegetable I could handle was potato (of course the only real bad one). Many people thought I was weird. Some thought I was just being fussy. Most thought I should ‘just eat it because it’s healthy for you’. But each time I tried to chew a bit of capsicum or cucumber I’d start to gag and end up spitting it out. It was more than being fussy. It was a real phobia called Lachanophobia.
I first heard about this phobia on an ABC program where doctors were studying a group of five people who had this fear to varying degrees. The texture of vegetables was one of the main reasons why they had developed this fear and I could relate. There isn’t another food which has a similar texture to vegetables and this together with their yucky taste was too much for me to stomach. I can’t eat banana’s for a textural reason too. This TV program reassured me there were others in the world like me!
My mum was worried I wasn’t gaining the necessary nutrition and took me to a dietician when I was a teenager. The dietician was not too impressed, but she was aware of the phobia and said as long as I took a multi-vitamin I’d be fine. My Dad’s approach was to slap $50 on the table and say I’d get it if I ate a bit of carrot. I tried my hardest but spat it out as I started to dry reach. I could’ve made a lot of money if I’d learned to eat vegetables back then!
A few years ago I saw another lady experienced in nutrition and she wasn’t as accommodating as the dietician. This woman told me my liver and kidneys must be very badly damaged and I’d be diagnosed with a severe illness within the next two years. She kept shaking her head in disbelief and she couldn’t believe I had no major health problems from not eating vegetables. Needless to say, I drove home from that meeting in tears. Someone who is paid to guide people into making healthy choices and educate them about food should not flat out say “you will not have many more years ahead of you if you keep eating this way.” I believed a pack-a-day smoker or McDonalds addict didn’t even deserve to be spoken to the way she spoke to me. I know there was some truth to what she was saying, but her delivery needed improving.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to eat vegetables. I did! As you may have read in previous blog posts, I’ve lost weight countless times before and every time I went on a new diet – I couldn’t eat vegetables. Losing weight would have been so much easier if I could tuck in to a big salad for lunch most days! Even though every diet recommends some form of salad and veggies with every meal that wasn’t an option for me. So I found myself eating a very restrictive diet when I was losing weight. Mostly of protein, low-fat dairy, fruit and practically no carbs. Very unhealthy. A typical dinner for me would be a steak with tomato sauce on top or two eggs or a piece of chicken breast. Lunch would be very similar! When I ate out I’d pick lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, beetroot, mushroom off any burger I’d order. I’d always leave salad or veggies on my plate whenever I dined out. I chose plain sushi – such as chicken teriyaki or tuna & avocado and pick the avocado out. A few times there would be a stray piece of lettuce in my sushi and I’d crunch into it and gag, spitting out the whole mouthful immediately. At Subway they’d ask what salads I wanted and I’d say ‘none!’ but sometimes they already were moving the lettuce towards my sub. Sometimes a piece would even land on the bread and I’d start freaking out inside wanting to tell them to remove it immediately!
In the last 18 months, I have begun to incorporate vegetables into my daily diet. So how did I do it? It began by researching the benefits that vegetables bring to the body. I knew they were ‘good for me’ but didn’t realise the specifics – that mushrooms contain Vitamin D and are great for boosting your metabolism (among a hundred other good reasons). I didn’t know capsicum contained a compound called capsaicin which helps with pain relief or beetroot is high in magnesium and iron and can reduce blood pressure. I learned about what food promoted an alkalizing effect on the body (plants) and what foods promoted an acidic environment. Now I could see how much my body could benefit from eating a variety of vegetables, I took action into finding out how I could start ingesting them without them coming back up!
It started with green smoothies. So many foodies on social media were blending up these so I started adding a small handful of spinach leaves into a smoothie each morning. Although I wasn’t too fussed at first, they became more and more drinkable as the days went on. Then I made a chicken quiche which had broccoli and zucchini in it. I put them in a food processor on the mega high-speed setting to whiz them up really small before adding them to the quiche. Spinach leaves and tomato were introduced at dinner time by mixing them into the frypan with whatever I was cooking at the time.
Then I stepped it up when I bought my juicer! I had saved my pennies for a few months as Jessica Ainscough had specified that the cold press juicers were best as they kept the enzymes intact. I just watched ‘Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead’ about Joe Cross, an Aussie who goes on a 60 day juice fast. The next day I went to the farmers market for the first time and bought two bags of fresh vegetables and some fruit. Then I drove to Myer and bought the juicer I’d researched – the Hurom 400. That was the first day of a five day juice fast! What a way to start! At first my juices didn’t taste that good, but because the texture was in a liquid form, I didn’t have a gag reflex so could drink them down easily. I grew to like the taste. As my body got used to the nutritious enzymes the juices brought to my cells, I believe it started to respond in a positive way, crave more and my tastes began to change.
Some of the juices I made this week!
Now that doesn’t mean I can sit down and eat a bowl of plain, raw vegetables tomorrow. That thought is still quite disgusting to me. But with a healthy dressing and combination of other ingredients I can eat it. I don’t love it, but I eat it and understand the ‘eat it because it is healthy’ saying. This is a picture of the salad I ate yesterday for lunch. I didn’t love it but I was able to eat it without gagging and walk away nourished and satisfied. I would order it again.
My Dad always said I’d start eating my veggies when I was 30. Dad you were right and I’m a healthier and happier person because of it!
Can I have that $50 now?