Everyone has certain foods they don’t enjoy eating, but disliking vast groups of foods often stops when you reach adulthood. If you feel stuck eating a limited food group based on your taste or texture preferences, these tips will help you overcome picky eating as an adult. Try them this week to start your journey to more creative dining experiences.
1. Introduce Small Changes
A study in the 2023 edition of Behavior Analysis in Practice found that gradual, small changes in habits create new stimulus-response reactions in the brain. It’s easier for the brain to accept significant changes when they happen in small doses. This includes rewiring your taste and texture preferences in your diet.
Instead of planning a week of entirely new meals with unfamiliar foods, try adding one new ingredient to a single meal. If you notice yourself enjoying that food more after a few days or weeks, introduce another previously disliked food. Your brain will gradually build new neural connections that create a genuine appreciation for foods you never used to enjoy.
2. Start At Home
Consider how your parents or guardians reacted when you said you didn’t like food as a child. They might have made you sit at the table until you cleared your plate or got mad that you were wasting food. Their negative reactions could have trained your brain to relate new foods with a sense of panic.
If you think this might be the case for your taste palate, start your culinary adventures at home. You’ll be in a familiar environment and retain complete control over your plate. These two factors could put your mind more at ease so your nervous system doesn’t feel like you’re in danger when trying a new recipe.
3. Gradually Reduce Certain Ingredients
When kids eat fast food at an early age, the high amounts of sugar increase their sweetness tolerance, so they seek more sugary foods as they age. You may have experienced the same thing as a child or young adult. Start enjoying snacks and desserts with less sugar by gradually decreasing how much sugar is in your diet.
If you jump from a big bowl of ice cream to a mug of tea with a teaspoon of sugar, the lack of sweetness will cause a negative response in your brain. You’ll go back to the sweeter dessert automatically. Instead, you could eat less ice cream for a few days and switch to tea with a few spoonfuls of sugar.
As you get used to drinking tea over eating ice cream, you can reduce the sugar in each mug by small amounts until you reach your nutrition goal. This is an easy way to overcome picky eating as an adult because you can meet your doctor’s nutrition recommendations in a way that works for you.
4. Combine Your Likes And Dislikes
You might have seen parents sneaking veggies into their child’s favorite meal in real life or on TV. Nutritional experts call this strategy flavor-flavor conditioning. If you combine a food you don’t like with a food you love, you could successfully eliminate old flavor preferences after a minimum of three weeks’ effort.
The next time you make your homemade pumpkin spice coffee to save a few dollars, combine sugar with your goal sweetener, like agave syrup. You could also add tomato slices to your favorite sandwich or cover olives on your pizza with extra cheese. It depends on what you want to start eating and which foods you already love.
5. Grow Your Own Food
You could feel more inclined to add mushrooms to your salad if you harvest them in your backyard after months of gardening work. You’ll have invested time and effort into your veggies. It’s more rewarding to eat food that exists due to your hard work rather than food you picked up at a grocery store.
Make a list of the veggies you’d like to try before researching their growth seasons. You might discover a love of gardening by planting vegetable seeds at the proper times during the upcoming year. It’s worth considering while overcoming picky eating as an adult if you’ve never tried growing veggies.
6. Participate In A Class
Research shows people are more likely to eat unfamiliar or disliked foods when they’re in a class compared to making them at home. The cooking process indulges your senses and makes you take pride in the resulting dish. Sign up for a cooking class in your local community or online to try this strategy with your least favorite foods.
Overcome Picky Eating As An Adult
Your taste buds don’t have to have the final say over your favorite foods. Overcoming picky eating as an adult is easy with tips like these. Consider which foods you don’t enjoy but would like to start eating. If you try various strategies, you’ll rewire your brain and broaden your diet with the many delicious foods available to curious cooks.