Monday, April 7, 2014

Fruits and Veggies of Love

Encouraging healthy eating for loved ones is a very delicate situation; whether it be for kids, friends, family or partners, it's a labor of love and patience. When trying to turn someone on to healthy eating, it's important to realize that it does not come naturally for everyone. If a huge bowl of dark leafy greens with a rainbow of mixed veggies sound like something you'd truly enjoy (like me!) then you're probably already a healthy eater, or can appreciate most health foods. But If the sound of that makes you cringe - you've probably got some work to do before you discover the natural enjoyments of a whole food, plant base diet.

If you've been following my blog, you already know about my love for veggies and healthy food. Another love of mine is my boyfriend, Enrique. He's super Cuban and his diet couldn't have been more opposite of mine. He grew up eating meat, chicken, cheese, white bread, soda and café con leche (coffee with a lot of milk and sugar). The closest thing to a vegetable that he'd consider having a bite of were fried plantains, and as for fruits - pulp-free orange juice. Obviously, this presented a serious challenge for me when I'd like to cook something special for us... But I like challenges.

(His mouth is full.)

Here are some things to keep in mind to help you understand the Fruits and Veggies of Love: 

Lesson 1: Never, ever force someone to eat something that they don't want to. This is my biggest, most important advice to you before you start encouraging healthy eating to a loved one. Eating can be a traumatic experience for people, especially when they are trying to eat a foreign product they've never had before. Demanding, forcing, or getting mad at someone for not giving your food a taste is possibly the most discouraging thing you can do. 

Lesson 2: Find out what they do like, even if it's orange juice! The first thing we started with was Green Smoothies. This was because he drank a lot of protein shakes, and orange juice... So one day I asked if I could make him a frozen smoothie that tasted like orange juice but had the texture of a protein shake. He actually liked it! So everyday I made him a green smoothie, with orange juice.

Lesson 3: Don't take it personally. I was on a roll after cooking a few things he did like, but jumped the gun by cooking my Vegan, Gluten-Free Eggplant Lasagna... Although he gave it a try, it was a little painful for him to eat such a vegetable complex dish. Instead of getting upset or mad at his reaction - I was able to find out what he didn't like about the meal so I could come up with a new idea.

Lesson 4: Don't let their diet become your obsession. Continue eating what you like, even if you're the only one eating it. It's easy to get excited about getting your loved ones on a healthy path to success, but it takes time. Some days they might be more adventurous to try new things than others. But you shouldn't jeopardize your health or good eating because your partner eats differently. If they are not into trying something new that day, let them be responsible for making themselves their own food, and you can enjoy whatever you normally do. You can still sit and have a meal together, even though you are eating two separate dishes.

After 9 months, Enrique now eats roasted broccoli florets, green smoothies, squash, baked falafel, almond milk, oatmeal cookies, vegan mac and cheese, hummus, and clementines. This is a huge achievement for him and his health.

This is what he had for dinner tonight: 
Roasted Broccoli, Kabocha Squash and Gluten-Free Mung Bean Pasta.


He loves how eating healthy has made him feel, and he's opening up to new foods everyday.

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