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The salad tax

The Salad Tax

The changes in lifestyle that must be made in order to lose weight and be healthy are quite simple. It’s common knowledge that we should all consume fewer calories, exercise three times a week, and take our medications regularly, right? So why is this bit of ‘simple wisdom’ not more popular? Why isn’t it as straightforward as it seems?

Well… to the average person, who’s only recently experienced some weight gain, these changes might be simple enough to tackle. No biggie. But to a person who has been living a great portion of their life with certain habits and ingrained preferences and ideas about food, these changes may be a challenge of Himalayan proportions. This is not to be negative about the situation. It’s a reality. It’s not easy to reason with an adult who has NOT eaten a vegetable in 30 years. “I just don’t like the taste!” some argue. We can sit there, and discuss the health benefits of asparagus until the organic, low cholesterol cows come home, but the fact of the matter is that such a person will not be compelled by our argument – much like a 6 year old will not be compelled.

So what is there to do? How do we reason with the adult? How do we reason with ourselves?

Well, first we need to recognize that the way we’re eating stems from psychologically ingrained behavioral issues. We have to negotiate with the behavioral issue, in a way that we short-circuit the ingrained reward pathways in the brain – and thus, form new habits.  Yes, much like we’d do with a 6 year old who won’t be reasonable.

You create a special tax. A quid pro quo, if you would. Many families are familiar with this special tax. They have long made the rules of the dinner table clear to their children: “If you want to have a scoop of ice cream, you’d better eat all your vegetables at dinner.” It was a challenge for them… but kids still ate their vegetables. And this was not a bad thing! A child developed taste buds for vegetables and a variety of foods, and came to understand that treats are foods we only have on occasion, and that sometimes we just don’t want to have them. Imagine that.

So as adults, perhaps we need to start paying that special tax, if we haven’t done so before.  We can call it “The Salad Tax.”

                You want pasta for dinner? – Have a salad first.

                You want a burger for dinner? – Have a salad first.

                You want a small slice of dessert later? – Have a salad first.

               You want to eat out with friends? – Have a salad first.

We’ll be rewiring our taste buds and minds to enjoy vegetables, plus we’ll also enjoy the benefits of fiber: leafy greens, as well as non-starchy veggies – broccoli, carrots, asparagus, and the like – are chock full of fiber, which doesn’t just help with our hearts and digestion, but also helps absorb excess glucose. Salad helps us explode in creativity with how we make our meals. NOTHING says we have to have a plain salad. Salad is a canvas of possibility! Explore it…!  Plus, the beauty of salad is that it is so filling… You won’t want for much else when you’re done.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.