Being picky about eating isn’t just a problem for young kids. Some adults have trained their palette to only enjoy the sophisticated taste of flaming hot Cheetos. But man cannot live on Cheetos and chicken nuggets alone. We must elevate our palette to enjoy whole foods if we want to live a long and healthy life. Here are five tips to help picky eaters love healthy foods.
Limit the Junk, Showcase the Good
One major way to change your eating habits is to choose to have good food at home. Most of us don’t have the willpower to resist temptation, so it’s better to not buy junk or your regular go-tos if you want to change your eating habits.
Then, once your home is filled with healthy goods, you should store it in a way that they remain top of mind. Keep fruits where you can see them. Consider placing them in bowls on counters and tables. Most fruits and veggies don’t need to be refrigerated. Save the fridge for items that are close to being overripe. If you live in a really hot location, refrigeration might be your only option. In which case, consider putting out your fruit at the start of the day.
Expand Your Food Knowledge
The grocery store and farmers’ markets are filled with whole foods beyond your standard apples, bananas, and oranges. If you feel limited in your food options, challenge yourself to purchase one or two new foods whenever you go to the grocer. Have fun searching for recipes and learning the various uses. Pro tip: most of the fresh whole foods will be located to the outer edges of the supermarket.
To love food is to know food. So make a game of expanding your food knowledge. Learn to read the labels on your food products. Find the whole food alternative to processed foods. Knowing the ingredients and their functions can help you with meal prep. You can then modify your meals to your liking and dietary needs.
Be the Chef
One reason people are sometimes picky about food is the fear of not knowing what is in a dish. Learning to cook and participating in the food preparation process is one way to demystify and prepare you to try new foods. Cooking is also a great way to learn about ingredients. As you experiment and manipulate, you get a sense of texture and flavor.
Another reason people are sometimes picky about eating healthy is that they are afraid the food will taste bland. Healthy cooking does equal bland cooking. Beloved, you can season your dishes and still be fit. There’s a saying: There are no bad foods, just bad recipes…and cooks.
Choose Your Battles, Celebrate Your Victories
It might sound counterintuitive, but being super militant about your food can cause you to relapse into bad habits. Eating should be a fun, enjoyable experience. So, being kind to yourself and taking baby steps will help you relax and become more open to new and healthy foods.
You don’t always have to eat clean. In fact, taking it one meal at a time—even one ingredient at a time—is great for building up good eating habits in a sustainable way.
Offer yourself rewards as you win battles and reach milestones. Remember, you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet, so your reward for eating clean all week shouldn’t be binging on junk during the weekend. Be creative and choose non-food-related rewards. Instead of a cheat day, do a spa day.
Be Patient and Keep Trying
You didn’t develop your bad eating habits overnight. So it will take some time before you find healthy foods and meals that you enjoy. According to PBS, “Research has shown that in most cases, parents can help their children learn to like new foods through multiple exposures (between five and ten) to new foods and opportunities to learn about food and eating.” So, when you find a new food, try preparing it five to ten different ways before you give up on it. Consider keeping a food journal to track your preferences and experiences.