There’s something that I see a lot of clients have in common. Sometimes you are aware of it and sometimes it’s in your blind spot. What is it? You don’t try new foods.
It’s amazing to me when I review a new client’s food diary and all I see are the exact same foods, every single day. Even if those are healthy foods, this is not a good thing. For several reasons:
- Missing Nutrients: Every vegetable and every fruit has a unique combination of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants etc. The truth is that science is still discovering new things in veggies and fruit that are good for our health. There is no one single perfect veggie or fruit for human health. Variety is the key to getting what you need. The same is true with nuts and seeds. Each nut and seed has a slightly different combination of protein and healthy fats. Minerals too. If you’re only eating one kind of nut, you’re missing out on what other nuts can provide.
- Missing Pleasure: The next new food you try may be your new favourite food. How do you know if you like it if you haven’t tried it? Food is both fuel for our bodies and a source of pleasure. How do you know if you’re missing out on some major pleasure? Also, taste buds change as we age. Some of my current favourite foods, such as olives and mushrooms, I hated as a child.
- Missing Role Modelling Opportunity: This one applies to those of you with kids and those who care for kids. A key strategy to get kids to try new foods it to role model trying new foods yourself. If you’re struggling with a picky eater, ask yourself honestly: “Are you role modeling trying new foods?” As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.
Something that’s important to note for both adults and kids alike, is that we learn to like new foods. That is, repeated exposure grows into enjoyment. When I first tried kale I didn’t like it. So I started by including small amounts in strongly flavoured sauces, such as tomato pasta sauce. Sure enough, I liked it more and more. Now I really enjoy kale. I used the same strategy with tofu. I wasn’t crazy about it at first, so I used small amounts in strongly flavoured dishes. Now I love it. My latest triumph is roasted Brussels sprouts. This winter I’ve turned the corner and now I love them – roasted in olive oil and sprinkled with the amazing smoked paprika that I bought when I was in Barcelona last year. I’m now eating Brussels sprouts once a week.
How do you get yourself out of a rut and try new foods? One step at a time. Make a rule that you try one new recipe per week. Or, that you pick up one new vegetables or fruit each week. If there’s a food that you know is healthy but you don’t really care for, make a commitment to eat it once a month. Soon you’ll find yourself out of that rut and eating a wider variety of foods.
For more info on eating variety, check out my recent post
Photo credit: Helena Yankovska on Unsplash.