You may have read my last post about why some foods seem to make some people gag. If you didn’t, read it here first.
It’s really tricky when you want to eat good food, but the thought of eating broccoli, for example, makes you want to gag.
There are a few ways of retraining your body to be able to eat foods which previously caused you to gag.
HUGE DISCLAIMER: these tips are absolutely not a way to train yourself out of an allergy or food intolerance so please do NOT go doing something crazy that will either give you anaphylactic shock, or cause your gut to go on strike for three days.
These tips are great, but they do require that you actually be dedicated to giving them a try.
What I mean by that is: there’s no point saying that you want to get into eating vegetables other than potatoes, but not actually see if the tips work for you. If you are going to quit at the first hurdle, there’s no point trying at all, and you might as well save yourself the effort and guilt and just give in to a life of chips, chips and more chips.
Decide what it is that you want to start eating. Don’t just grandly declare that you want to eat ‘vegetables’ if you can barely even look at a cauliflower without crying. Decide on one or two veggies that you quite like the idea of eating, and then go from there.
Don’t force yourself to eat the aforementioned vegetable/food stuff. You need to do this sloooowly so that you don’t freak out yourself, or your gag reflex. Bear in mind that a lot of your gagging isn’t due to the food being poisonous. It’s down to your body and your mind seeing the food as potentially dangerous. Which is a very different thing.
Start tricking yourself into consuming small amounts of the food, in a way that is non-offensive to your tastebuds and gag reflex. I find the easiest way to do this is to start making fresh juices, and occasionally add in the food that you want to start liking – beginning with very small amounts.
For example: a fresh carrot and apple juice can easily hide a multitude of flavours – an inch of cucumber, a leaf or two of spinach, one tiny floret of broccoli, for example.
The key here is to only add the smallest amount of the offending veg – you don’t want to be able to taste, or even smell it in the juice. You just want there to be a little bit in there so that your body can start to recognise the food without your tastebuds knowing about it. By allowing your body to get used to a food without actually tasting it seems to help reduce your gag-ability when you actually eat the food. (this opinion is totally based on my own observation but hey, it definitely seems to work!)
Fourth step: Increase your magnesium levels – either via taking a good quality magnesium supplement or by eating foods high in magnesium. An overly-active gag reflex might also possibly be caused, in part, by being deficient in magnesium, which is both good AND bad news.
It’s good news because you just need to eat more foods which are rich in magnesium.
It’s bad news because a few of the foods which are high in magnesium are exactly the ones that your probably can’t bring yourself to eat – such as green leafy veg.
Regardless, increasing your magnesium rich foods is one way which might help reduce your gagginess over foods. So add some greens (in tiny amounts to start with) to your juices.
Once you’ve started adding some of the offending food to juices etc, you are ready to start eating it. GULP.
No worries though: you just need to add the tiniest amount, either blended up or chopped up very finely, so that you can barely see or taste it. Again, we are looking to just give your body a hint of the food. Your fave tomato-based pasta dish is a good starting point: a bolognese for example, is the perfect hiding place for all kinds of vegetable goodness. I remember once hiding spinach in my dad’s spag-bol, and totally persuading him that the green bits were basil!
This is where you take over. Keep on slowly but surely increasing the amounts you add to different meals. It might take a few weeks; it might take years. No matter how long it does take you, it’s totally worth doing if you want to get more of those gag-worthy veggies into your diet.
And then suddenly, one day, when you aren’t paying attention, you’ll realise that you just ate a whole lump of cauliflower without even flinching.
At which point, my work is done.