Trying New Foods – Steps to Success!

There is so much more to the food and cooking world then I ever realized before I really started trying new foods.  I have found that as a picky eater I have already gone through several different stages of trying new foods, of learning how to cook, of eating out at restaurants, and still have so many more to go through.  You may have already made it through a lot of these when you were younger but if you are a picky eater than they might be new learning experiences for you.

Trying new foods is a whole category just by itself as a picky eater.  Just being able to actually take a small bite of something is a huge step.  These are some of the steps I have gone through when trying a new good.

  • Step 1: Being exposed to new foods (learn about it, see it, touch it, smell it).
  • Step 2: Being able to try something new, just one small bite.
  • Step 3: Being able to try more than one bite (2 or 3 bites).
  • Step 4: Repetition, try that same food with several bites over and over again.  (At least 7-10 times)
  • Step 5: Actually eat all of it in one sitting.
  • Step 6: Decide if you actually like the food or not.
  • Step 7: Incorporate it into ongoing diet.

Then there are also the different food preparation and cooking steps that come into play.  There is being able to:

  • Learning how to properly use cooking utensils, knives, spatulas, oven settings, etc.
  • Learning how to properly use silverware.
    • Yes, this was a step for me 🙂
  • Prepare raw foods such as fruits and vegetables.
    • Ex. Learn how to cut up a red bell pepper.
  • Cook the food so that it is edible.
    • Ex. Especially raw foods such as chicken or eggs.
  • Actually cook the food well so that it tastes good!
    1. Follow a recipe exactly
    2. Be comfortable just eyeing it as you go
    3. Cook great tasting food

Then there is also the whole element of trying new foods out at restaurants with family and friends and lots of people all around.  There could be additional ingredients in the food and other surprises you weren’t expecting.

So here are some observations I noticed that helped with my success especially at the beginning when trying new foods.

  • I was much more successful when relaxed with surroundings and conditions that made me feel more comfortable.
    • For example, at first I preferred to be alone when I tried something new which also translated to not having anyone watching me.
  • I liked to be at home in case I need to spit something back out because the food did not agree with me.
  • I do not like to be rushed so I can take a small bite and then think about it.
  • It helps to focus on analyzing the taste and texture as I try something, it gives my mind a specific place to be that is not just anxiety or fear.
  • I have to try the new food several times to get used to it, on average it seems at least 7 to 10 times before I am really comfortable with it or can decide whether I like it or not.
  • Starting small helps and then I am able to work up to several bites slowly.
  • Linking to foods or tastes or textures or smells that I already know was extremely helpful.
  • Starting with simple foods with one taste or texture was best before moving into complex foods or dishes with multiple tastes and textures.
  • Starting with dryer foods that weren’t as messy helped.  I don’t know what it is about messy foods but even when I know I have created the mess and know it is my plate I still just don’t like messy foods as much.
  • Being involved in the preparation of the food is very helpful in me seeing exactly how a food has come to look the way it does, smell the way it does and taste the way it does.
    • For example, I don’t like starting off trying foods with things mixed in because I don’t know what has been mixed into it but when I go through the process of mixing the ingredients myself then I can tell that those little black spots are really just pepper or those little white things are garlic then it helps a lot.
  • Preparation also in the sense of having thought about what food to try next and being ready to try it instead of something spur of the moment.  Anxiety and fear do play a role in this and immediately kick in if someone tries to get me to eat something I am not prepared for.  So it helps to have prepared and researched a little bit about a new food.

One of the hardest parts about trying new foods has been finding the willpower and time to do it.  Even with extra time it is still very hard to do and takes a lot of effort, preparation and willpower.  You really have to make time for it and make it a priority.  It is much harder to find the energy to put towards this when all of your energy and willpower has been sapped out of you by the end of the day.  So it is best while your willpower is strongest to plan your next new food whether that is in the morning before focusing on a million other tasks for the day or after relaxing at night or during the day on the weekends.  You just need to find some time to focus on trying new foods.  Easier said than done especially when you work all day and are tired by the end of the day.  That is where having the food already in the house or having a plan already laid out for what to get at the grocery store really helps.

This continues to be a crazy and wonderful journey and for those of you just starting out trying new foods I hope this has helped!