You know the benefits of eating clean. And you want to do it. You really, really want to. Except you have this thing where healthy foods kind of make you gag. Whether you had a bad experience with boiled rutabaga during your childhood or your taste buds are just attuned to the flavors of highly processed junk, it's time to face the facts: You're a grown-up picky eater.
Of course, being extra choosy isn't a crime. But if you really want to get serious about improving your diet, you've gotta find a way to make healthy fare seem more delicious and less like torture. And while it might take some work, you can totally do it. Here, six simple tips to help you get over your issues with all foods green and clean:
1. Forget how you felt as a kid. If you haven't let a vegetable slip past your lips since elementary school, now might be time to give things another try. "Your taste buds are more sensitive to bitter flavors when you're a kid," says Georgie Fear, RD, author of Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss. Which means that even though broccoli might have tasted like lawn clippings when you were 10, your adult self might actually like it.
2. Surround yourself with healthy food. French people aren't born loving escargot, and Japanese people aren't born loving sushi. Instead, they come to like snails or raw fish because the foods are a part of their regular environment, suggests findings published in the journal Appetite. Rather than buying more boxed mac and cheese and chicken fingers, get into the habit of stocking your kitchen with whole wheat pasta and organic chicken breasts. As you get used to having the clean stuff around, you could find yourself wanting it more often.
3. Take baby steps.
If the thought of eating plain raw carrots grosses you out, don't do it. Start by pairing them with something outrageously delicious, like ranch dressing, says Fear. After a while, you might decide to start dunking them in something a little more nutrient-dense, like hummus. And if that's where you decide to stay? No prob. If you still don't like plain raw carrots, you don't have to eat them.
4. Appeal to your sweet tooth.
Take advantage of the fact that humans are hard-wired to crave sugar. Instead of trying to choke down raw or steamed vegetables, try roasting them to bring out their natural sweetness and make them more palatable. You might not think a brussels sprout could ever truly taste like candy—but when it gets caramelized and crispy, it really does.
5. Go for the fancy stuff. Research published in the Journal of Sensory Studies found that people who paid $8 for a buffet lunch reported being more satisfied with their meal compared to those who only paid $4, even though both groups ate the same stuff. Why? Because we're shallow—and we automatically think that cheaper food is going to be lower quality. When possible, spend the extra couple bucks on organic kale from the farmers' market instead of that limp bunch at the corner store. Thanks to your built-in snobbiness, you might trick yourself into thinking the pricey stuff tastes pretty good.
(Get started with this 25 item clean-eating grocery list.)
6. Make sure you're actually hungry. Before you bother sitting down to that salad, check in with your appetite. "One of the [things] I do with every single client is to make sure they aren't eating if they aren't hungry," Fear says. Why? Because when your stomach's really rumbling, you'll be way more willing to eat whatever's in front of you—even if it's a big bowl of vegetables.
This article originally appeared on EatClean.com.