Seven ways to learn to try foods you think you hate

foodSo I hate a lot of food.

While it’s completely true that I’m a picky asshole, a lot of the foods I hate are a stomach-turning aversion rather than a “I don’t liiiiiiIIIIiiIIIIIIke that” whine.

They also tend to be “healthy” or “clean” foods. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of “junk” foods I hate just as much, but those don’t tend to pop up every time I Google “what the hell should I eat for dinner”. Because the list of meals that are convenient to make and my-mouth approved is pretty short.

I’m trying to learn to like some different foods. Here are my techniques for dipping my toes in. Maybe they’ll help you?

  1. Rely on friends – If your friends show up one Saturday afternoon bearing a spread of cheeses and dried fruits, you have no choice but to give at least most of it a try (though I did avoid the blueberry-covered goat cheese.) Let friends steer you towards new foods. If they’re familiar with your particular food nitpicks, they can often help guide you towards choices you will probably like. And you love your friends, so you won’t hate them when they drag you into an Indian restaurant for the first time in your life.
  2. Give yourself an out – When you try something new, have a backup. Order pasta with a new sauce, but ask for it on the side. Try a new block of cheese, but grab your standby and crackers you know you love. Go with your friends to that hot gastropub, but ask for a little extra bread on the side. Or order a dish with one element you’re not sure about that’s entirely avoidable, like a side or topping that you can scrape off. You avoid getting hangry and you still get to eat, even if you hate what you just tried.
  3. Go slowly – Unless you’re in a particularly adventurous mood, trying multiple new foods in a row will just leave you feeling cranky.
  4. Google – I’ve discovered that a lot of foods I thought I hated were actually misfires–as in, they were cooked incorrectly. Some foods take on bitter or sulfury notes when improperly cooked. If there’s a food you don’t necessarily mind the taste of but hate the texture, there’s almost certainly a different preparation that will offer a different mouthfeel.
  5. Know why you’re doing it – Keeping your eyes on the prize will help you feel more motivated to keep trying. Maybe you want to add more vegetables into your diet, maybe you’re combatting a medical condition or maybe you just want to feel more adventurous. Whatever the reason, keep it in mind with every bite.
  6. Know when to cut your losses – If you’re making yourself miserable to try and eat something, it’s probably time to give up. If you’re coating a food in sugar or hiding it behind a hundred other ingredients, the benefits are probably heavily outweighed.
  7. Be kind to yourself (and others)  – Forgive yourself for having food aversions. When you try a new food and you don’t like it, breathe deeply. Shrug, say “At least I tried” and move on. Try not to dwell, try not to be angry, try not to feel like a failure.

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