Diet food? Yuck!

How to Make It Up to Them and Enjoy Healthy Eating

Green drink. Unsplash - Christina Rumpf

Does the term “diet food” terrify you?

Do you feel contempt even before you know the taste of things considered “fit”?

You are not alone! And believe me: changing this paradigm is essential for you to be able to improve your eating habits without suffering.

First of all, let’s quickly conceptualize “diet food” as those foods popularly considered “good” for your body — nutritious foods you probably ate until you choked up when you wanted to lose weight — remember Apple Day? Kale juice detox? Egg diet?

Remember any time you ate something until you were nauseated with the goal of losing weight. Did it? Excellent!

Please try to remember the context in which this happened. It is very possible that, in addition to eating a lot of that special food, you were also: starving, unable to eat what you really wanted, feeling deprived of seeing other people eating what you wanted, restricting the amount of what you could eat, and dreaming of donuts and pizza all day.

These foods were consumed in a context of obligation and punishment. They didn’t really satisfy you, because your (emotional) hunger might not even be for food.

Woman cutting zucchini

When I was younger, I went to a nutritionist who prescribed me a perfect eating plan to lose a few pounds. My lunch consisted of vegetables, some rice, and some lean protein. I remember, at the second appointment, asking if I could eat triple the amount of zucchini she had recommended. She looked at me with a face of confusion: who in their right mind would eat so much zucchini?

Well, a person who felt like a bottomless pit and couldn’t eat anything else.

Do you understand how this kind of trauma works?

As a result, we end up associating lovely foods (like zucchini) with suffering and deprivation. We ate them until we were sick.

And you know the worst of all?

They failed their part and didn’t make you thin forever. They didn’t keep their promise. Damm it.

“But these healthy foods are boring”

I admit it’s true. You can’t compare the palatability (taste) of a tomato to that of chips.

But in addition to stimulating the taste buds, there’s something you’re probably missing out on. The truth is, anything that is constantly available loses its fun.

Is lettuce unlimited and available? Not funny.

Is chocolate restricted and should be avoided? WOW.

WHENEVER you feel you “can’t eat as much as you want” of some food (read, unlimited amount with no harm), it becomes more attractive, more irresistible, and a lot more fun.

Therefore, two things resolve the issue of “not being funny”.

The first is good old-fashioned unconditional permission to eat. Eat what you want, whenever you want. It will take away your sense of scarcity about food and fun foods will get more trivial. (Calm down, they’ll still be fun, I promise you).

The second is to stop eating healthy and nutritious food as if you were on a diet: no fat, no salt, no sugar — NO FUN. Adding spices and some oil will add flavor and texture to the dish, which will stimulate your taste buds.

Avocados filled as salads

In general, natural foods are not very appealing to your tooth (think vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats) — and the food industry knows this very well! It’s up to you to put “fun” in those foods.

You can do this:

Via addition:

  1. Add some cheese or butter to your veggies
  2. Eat whole-grain and dairy versions
  3. Use peanut or nut butter sparingly
  4. Try frozen or warm fruit sprinkled with powdered milk
  5. Throw cracked toast or a seed mix in a salad, plus a drizzle of honey and homemade dressing
  6. Try adding avocados, mangoes, and other fruits to salads

If none of this pleases you, you may need to re-educate your taste buds. You can get help with that.

Via in ritual:

Everything that involves visual, auditory, environmental, people, and presence stimulation. You can try to:

  1. Use a nice (and clean!) tablecloth
  2. Have a flower vase on the table
  3. Eat in great company and avoid difficult subjects to digest at the table
  4. Eat away from your cell phone and screens in general

Try taking these foods out of limbo. Test one recipe, another, and then another. Find a genuinely pleasurable way to eat them.

Believe it or not, broccoli is still broccoli after you butter it.


I am a Brazilian girl (living in Sao Paulo with my fiancé — and other 20 million people). I love coffee, books, and good food. I also really enjoy studying and learning new things that allow me to further develop myself both professionally and personally. I have a degree in Food Science and hold a Ph.D. in Agri-food Marketing. In addition, I am a Certified Nutrition Coach and an enthusiastic Nutrition student.

After 15 years of living in war with my body and with food, I found freedom through mindfulness and intuitive eating, practices that allowed me to overcome yo-yo dieting and binge eating.

I’m passionate about helping women rewrite their food and body histories so they feel free and confident to live their lives to the fullest.

There is a power that comes alive when women free themselves from the food prison in which they have learned to live, when they realize that they are capable and deserving of feeling fantastic in their own bodies, and that confidence is a state of mind — not a body lotion which you get the right to use when you reach a weight-loss goal.

My work is dedicated to nurturing, celebrating and sharing this message.

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