Midwest Kitchen: Being an Adventurous Eater
One of the questions that I get a lot when I post travel or restaurant photos is…”how can you eat that?” That has been everything from fermented shark and octopus to interesting vegetables or preparation methods. The easy answer is that I just do. I will eat, or at least try, everything possible. I mean that so sincerely. There have been times in Chinatown when I’ve really had no idea what I’m eating. Language barriers, right? Doesn’t matter, eat it if it looks good. The looks good part of this is important. I’m not forcing myself to eat gross things, but I won’t deprive myself because I’m a picky eater.
I used to be a picky eater. I turned my nose up at a lot of things, but I’ve worked through it and now can travel and try new restaurants with zero problems. Here are some tips to beat your picky eating.
Accept that a lot of this problem is mental.
When we eat, we are influenced by foods we’ve already eaten in the past. Don’t allow these past experiences to ruin your current one. Go into the food experience untainted by these memories. Think about it as a singular event. You don’t know the outcome yet. It could be great! So go in with empty expectations.
Try it a few times.
Tell yourself that you need to eat three bites of the new food. It’s not going to be fun, especially if you’re exceptionally picky, but try three separate bites. If you still hate the food after this, don’t keep going. Congratulate yourself on the serious, concerted effort.
How about a baby step?
Combine foods that you like with foods that you don’t. If you’re eating something that you already know is safe, and something enjoyable, it makes at least part of the meal good. After trying them with something you like a few times, then you can transition to eating them alone, or combined with other new foods.
Try new ways of cooking.
Say that you hate broccoli. Buy a bunch of broccoli and cook it a million ways until you find some that you tolerate. Boiled, raw, made into soup…whatever you can tolerate. Back to the mental thing, I have an easier job convinving myself that I haven’t had the food I hate this way, so the outcome will be different this time.
Eat it anyway.
I hate cooked spinach. It’s not something I have ever enjoyed. I eat it anyway. I don’t eat it straight or anything, but if I’m out to dinner and there’s cooked spinach in my rice or something I will still eat it. I’ve gone from gagging just seeing it to tolerance. Is that the same as loving it? No. But it’s an improvement.
Focus on one at a time.
Don’t overdo it if you’re struggling. It’s okay to decide to focus on just one thing at a time. Maybe pick one food a month, or a season, that you’re going to focus on tolerating. That’s enough. You’re only doing this for yourself, right?
Don’t ask what’s in the food.
If you’re at a restaurant where the ingredients aren’t listed, just try it without knowing. You might be surprised as to what you’d eat if you ddidn’t know in advance what was there. Obviously don’t do this if you have allergies or sensitivities.
Talk to a doctor.
If you’re really, seriously, reying to stop being so picky and it’s not working. Talk to a dotor. This is especially true if you’re finding yourself feeling ill after trying multiple new foods. Don’t make yourself sick. That’s not great, and not worth a newfound love of carrots.
I hope that this helps you. Picky eating in adults can be classed as a legitimate eating disorder in its most severe form. If you’re having problems, please see a doctor, which I am not. I hope that you can tackle your pickiness and make eating out and travelling to exotic locations easier.