Broaden your Food Palate
We have all heard of children who are reluctant to try new foods. As a dietitian, I have also had many adults tell me that they are a “picky eater” and that their “will not eat” list is much longer than their “will eat” list. I won’t lie – this is something that I often have a hard time wrapping my head around because I absolutely love food! I love reading about food, purchasing new foods, trying different recipes and, most of all, sharing meals with family and friends.
Even if you have a fairly diverse diet, there are lots of reasons to broaden your food palate and increase the number of foods that you eat. The first is to optimize your nutrient intake. We know that eating a variety of foods helps to ensure that you get all the nutrients that are important for health. Eating a variety of foods also helps to prevent people from getting bored with their meals and can help with the “I don’t know what to cook anymore” feeling. Finally, expanding your diet helps you to be a good role model for your family. Children learn by watching others eat. If you don’t eat something because you HATE it, you really can’t expect that your child will try that food.
Some tips to help you incorporate new foods into your diet include:
- Start small. It may be one radish in a salad, one clove of garlic in a batch of mashed potatoes, or one bite of someone else’s meal at a restaurant. Whatever it is, start with a small amount to get use to new flavours and textures.
- Add new foods to something familiar. For example, you may try adding chopped spinach to lasagna, sardines to pizza, or carrots to chicken noodle soup.
- Exposure is key. People often dislike foods because of lack of exposure or because the food was poorly cooked. Foods will taste differently depending on how they are prepared and what other foods are part of that dish. An example of this is boiled carrots that are soft and mushy compared to carrots that are roasted with oil, maple syrup, and thyme. These two cooking methods will cause the carrots to have a completely different taste and texture. Consider trying a food in several different dishes before deciding that you don’t like it.
- Get cooking. Look through magazines or on the internet to find new and exciting recipes. Use recipes from familiar TV chefs or cookbooks when trying a new food – think Julie and Julia. You never know, you might just find that a recipe is a new favourite.
I encourage you to buy something different the next time you are at the grocery store and to try new, nutritious recipes. For recipe ideas, check out Eatright Ontario at www.eatrightontario.ca or the Heart and Stroke website at www.heartandstroke.com.
Happy cooking and eating,