Most people find some foods more unappetizing than others. Often, the taste or texture does not suit their palates. Slimy foods like okra are especially repulsive to many. Sometimes, certain foods trigger unpleasant memories. If a child is forced to eat a certain food, the child may attach a negative emotion to it and avoid it into adulthood.
Recent research suggests that picky eating goes beyond pigheadedness. Smithsonian.com reported that food preferences can be shaped by one’s perception of odors and textures, exposure to flavors in utero, and genetics. Food finicality covers a vast spectrum of choosiness as unique as each individual. In some cases, however, it develops into a selective eating disorder.
Being persnickety about foods makes social eating awkward, putting a person at risk of going hungry at a function or offending a host. More importantly, extreme finickiness can deprive an individual of a well-rounded diet, leading to nutritional deficiencies and subsequent health issues.
It is possible to cultivate a taste for foods that seem detestable right now. Here are a few ideas to stretch the taste buds and learn to tolerate – or even enjoy – new foods:
Choose a New Food Every Week
The most difficult part of trying new things is making the decision to. Many finicky eaters stay away from certain foods because of how the foods look or feel. Pick an unusual ingredient to try and add it to the grocery list. Try at least three bites before concluding whether to love or leave it.
Mix It In
Introduce a new food by combining it with something familiar. A casserole dish such as pot pie or macaroni and cheese is an easy place to hide new foods. The “yucky” food gets to partner with a “yummy” food, hopefully cultivating a positive correlation. Soups are another tasty avenue for bringing in new foods that can be finely diced or pureed. These are effortless ways to sneak in more or different vegetables and other edibles that are normally avoided or left on the plate.
Give It Another Chance – or Ten
Just by trying a food a few times, it can lose its un-appeal and become a staple. One study found that after children had been exposed to unliked foods 10 times, they had learned to enjoy the foods. If a food was disliked during childhood, sample it again as an adult. It is quite possible that one’s preferences have changed.