Learning to eat better is tough on its own.
When you dislike most of the foods that are “supposed” to make you healthy, it just plain sucks.
Here’s the story of how I unintentionally experimented on myself and learned how even the pickiest of eaters can become more open-minded in their food choices.
When I was a kid, I would have eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at every meal if my parents let me.
As I grew up and turned into a sophisticated, teenaged gentleman, my tastes became more cultured as well. That is, I added ramen noodles and canned ravioli to my menu.
Then, when I became a young adult and moved out on my own, that’s when the first experiment took place.
I had very little money, and was always hungry. I remember a time when I thought I was sick and couldn’t get better, only to realize I simply needed to eat more. From there on out, when I had the opportunity to eat, I ate whatever I could.
If I went to a friend’s house for dinner, I had a serving of everything. Even if I hated it.
If I ate out, I didn’t ask to make substitutions or have items removed. I ate it all. Even if it had mushrooms in it. (Yuck.)
After a few weeks, I noticed I didn’t mind certain foods as much. I even enjoyed some of it.
Though it was an experiment born of necessity rather than any kind of scientific curiosity, it caused me to become a more well-rounded eater.
More recently, I decided to start taking a supplement I hadn’t used before. (I won’t name it, because I don’t want to endorse it. You can see what supplements we do endorse here.)
I don’t know how to describe the taste other than to say, imagine the most bitter flavor you’ve ever experienced, mix it in your mind with the unmistakable smack of bile, and that’ll get you in the ballpark.
(I tried to get Megan to try it, but she still won’t. Not sure why.)
After I tried it the first time, I wasn’t sure there would be a second. But I decided to stick with it.
A few days later, the taste became more tolerable. Now, several weeks into it, I wouldn’t say I like it (not sure that would ever be possible), but it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
This isn’t revolutionary stuff. Most people are well aware that you can acquire new tastes over time. There are plenty of real studies to back it up (like this one).
The purpose of this blog isn’t to tell you something you already know. Instead, I have 3 reasons for writing this:
If you have the idea in your head that learning to like new foods is an endless series of torturous meals, it’s not!
While there’s no guarantee you’ll end up liking every food you try, if you’re going to acquire a taste for something, it doesn’t have to take forever. For me, it was only a matter of weeks.
(It seems to help if you can mix it in with other foods you like, too, allowing most of your meal to still be enjoyable.)
2. First-hand Proof
Not only have I found it possible for my tastes to change, my experience with the nasty supplement has shown me it can be an extreme adaptation, too.
Again, it won’t always work, so don’t force it. You’ll find different levels of success. For example:
I enjoy a lot more vegetables now, like Brussels sprouts.
I still don’t care for mushrooms, but I’ll eat them from time to time.
I can’t stand green olives, so that’s something I still don’t eat.
There’s no reason you have to eat any one specific food item. Take your wins where you can get them, and don’t worry about the rest.
Overall, I’d say I’m not a picky eater anymore, I’m particular. If I have a choice, I’d rather stay away from certain things. But there are very few foods I won’t eat if it’s put in front of me.
That’s a pretty big step up from only eating pb&j’s. (Which are still SO good.)
I guess my experiments worked. I suppose that means I’m a scientist now. Can’t wait for my Nobel Prize.