I recently gave a series of workshops that dealt with understanding why we crave foods that are bad for us and struggle with eating the foods that makes us feel good, inside and out. The bottom line is that we all know what we should and shouldn’t be eating. True, there is a huge glut of information that continues to flood our inboxes about what’s healthy and what’s not, which only causes us to second guess ourselves all the time.  In a way, all of that confusion is a great excuse for some of us to resist making changes. “It’s just too confusing and too overwhelming so why bother?”

Well, we must bother. We must care. We must start now, even if we take baby steps.  Tony Robbins tells us that we won’t be motivated enough to make lifestyle changes until we turn our “shoulds” into “musts”.  Any change is possible if it is done in small, easy and doable steps.

There is always too much resistance around thinking about all the things we shouldn’t be eating, so I encourage you to focus on all the yummy stuff you can eat. The best way I know to do that is to get excited about it! Turn it into a game, a challenge of sorts. I started challenging myself to find a new vegetable to try every week. I would go to the grocery store and peruse the veggies, looking for things I had never tried. It was a real stretch at first because I was worried that I wouldn’t know what to do with something new. What if I didn’t like it? Would my family eat it? Why waste the money?

I started asking the produce person questions about this one or that one. What exactly is it? What does it taste like? What can you compare it to and what do you do with it? Sometimes, if I lingered long enough, I would see another customer picking out a vegetable or a green that was foreign to me and I would boldly but politely ask them, “So, how do you like to cook that?”

My boldness and my curiosity became my best partners as I courageously added new foods to my healthy repertoire. Almost everything I have tried has been wonderful and has become a staple part of my diet. Sure, there have been a couple of things that didn’t float my boat, but the benefits of finding so many new and great new options has been absolutely worth it in every way.

Growing up, I wasn’t exposed to too many fruits and vegetables and even then, I was so picky and ate very few. Now, I live for veggies and I know that there’s always something new and wonderful to experience if I stay open to it. Here are some of the new “relationships” I’ve created along with some tips on what to do with these gifts from nature:

Radishes. I just never liked them at all, my whole life. I had to push myself a bit, but I found some new and exotic ones at Whole Foods and now I love them. Two of my favs are Black Radish and Watermelon Radish. Just peel them, cut them up and throw them in your salad. Fabulous!

I experimented with different root vegetables like parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, and fennel. All of these are so yummy roasted up with carrots, sweet potatoes, onions and butternut squash. I make a giant batch and keep them handy for my salads, for a quick side dish, or to add into a skillet creation. I also love fennel raw and I make a delicious Orange Fennel Salad.

Celery root is such an interesting thing. It looks creepy, but if you peel it, boil it, and add some steamed cauliflower, you can make a pseudo mashed potato dish that gives you much more bang for your buck than just eating starchy potatoes. It’s also wonderful as a creamy soup. It has the flavor of celery, but it has the consistency of a good old fashioned cream of potato soup.

Greens, greens, greens! Go Team Green!! I can’t say enough about my life with all these new greens in it. My world has expanded to incorporate this bountiful category of vegetables. I love eating them raw, juiced or cooked. They make me feel great and I now crave them every day. Kale was the first and most obvious choice, but that was just the beginning. I love mustard greens, collard greens, swiss chard, Italian flat leaf parsley, bok choy, napa cabbage and watercress, to name a few. Each of them has multiple rewards in the health department as well as the taste bud department. Not only am I getting the benefits they offer, but they keep my weight stable, my blood sugar stable, my heart and gut healthy and my digestion right on track. They keep me feeling full and satisfied and I like knowing that there are millions of ways I can use them if I continue to experiment with them.

The best part of my adventures has been that as I look for new foods to try, I’m also having fun with finding new ways to cook them. It keeps it fresh and new. I have a busy schedule and sometimes experimenting doesn’t fit into my time budget, but at least I have some favorite tried and true recipes that I fall back on for a quick and easy meal here and there. Trust me, I don’t have the luxury of cooking all day long, so I have to be smart and quick about it. That’s where being prepared saves me. I simply buy the stuff and have it in the fridge, staring me in the face. One way or another, having them there forces me to use them.

Get out there! Get adventurous! You CAN eat A LOT! Expand your food horizons and there’s no telling what other great things will happen for you when you learn the joy of happy and healthy eating.  There is more out there that you can and should have than you shouldn’t have, if you look for it. Once again, remember that taking your health back is definitely a MUST rather than a SHOULD and there’s no better time to start than right now.

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Edie Ruge is a Health and Wellness Coach offering unique strategies in guiding people to achieve their wellness goals. She specializes in weight management, stress reduction, increased energy and overall improved health.  Edie’s integrative and holistic approach helps people lead healthier, happier and more balanced lives.