Learning to Love the Foods You Don’t Like

As much as it makes sense to limit foods that are detrimental to your long term weight loss and health goals, it’s also prudent to be open minded and receptive to foods you may not like or think you don’t like especially when they can play an integral part in achieving your goals.

It’s probably that some of the foods you love now, you hated as a child; but how many foods do you still avoid just because you think you don’t like them? There is good reason for considering this as my personal experience will testify.

Eggs and avocados: From dislike to love
I ate most things when I was young. However with eggs and avocados, I had a mental block; I went down with the flu when I was about 10 years old and attributed it to food poisoning from a boiled egg, which I had the previous day. This preconceived notion robbed me of these wonderful cheap sources of protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.

However in the past two years while researching for my eBook, The Fat Loss Puzzle, it became inconceivable that I could continue to ignore the benefits of eggs especially when my aversion was based on nothing to do with food poisoning or taste. Hence my new found affection for eggs (free range, organic) including the raw yolks I use in shakes, which actually taste of mild vanilla.

The psychology of taste is further complicated by our natural dislike for things that are new or different from what we are expecting; this applies to the second food I dispelled and another one of nature’s nutritional gems, the avocado. I was offered a slice while in my early teens thinking it tasted like pears because the guy who offered me a piece referred to it correctly as an avocado pear. On that assumption I proceeded to taste and very quickly made my mind up that I didn’t like it since it tasted nothing like a pear. I have been eating these gems for a few years and really couldn’t refrain from eating them; described as having a creamy, nutty taste with a creamy texture, how could anyone refuse to indulge in this top ten Superfood?

Add to that the fact avocados are a nutritional powerhouse full of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, anti-cancer compounds and an endless list of other disease prevention attributes.

I don’t profess to be an expert in parenting, but one of the best investments parents can make for their children’s learning ability is to introduce them to a wide variety of natural foods when they are young to encourage them to embrace different tastes and textures and avoid a dependence on processed, packaged foods. For example my two previously phobic foods, avocados and FRO eggs contain healthy fats and nutrients crucial for brain development.

Unfortunately the opposite is true and our diets are dominated by highly processed foods with the optimum amounts of salt, sugar, refined oils and other additives, which literally hijack our taste buds and consequently we have no real taste sensation leaving us with a bland palate towards whole natural foods and a lack of appreciation for their true taste.

Taste is subjective, but….
People don’t know sometimes why they are averse to a particular food; for example some people don’t like mushrooms and it is suspected that this is more to do with the rubbery texture and perhaps their appearance. The unfamiliarity and strangeness of the texture makes us slightly uncomfortable and we interpret this feeling as a personal dislike. However, this reaction reflects the food’s uniqueness rather than its true character.

Is it possible to learn to like a food even if you don’t like the taste?
Definitely, but you have to be prepared to persevere and experiment. I have never had liver since childhood and developed an interest for it about a year ago due to its unrivaled nutritional profile and low cost compared to other cuts of meat.

I focused on grass fed lamb’s liver, which has a mellow taste; after playing around with it, I found a great way of serving the liver with caramelised apples and onion in a cider and crème fraîche reduction accompanied with sweet potato mash and steamed spring greens; a meal fit for a King.

Perception bias
It turns out that most of the time we decide what we like before we bother to experience it and this prejudice clouds our perception of what we actually encounter; an effect referred to as perception bias.

Knowing about this bias can help you become receptive to foods you think you don’t like and even learn to love them. The first step is deciding that there is value in enjoying a food you currently dislike. I’m not saying you should develop an appreciation for frozen courgette, but most fresh, natural whole foods are worth rediscovering for both taste and culture and let the health and fat loss aspects take care of themselves. With each experience, your taste will become more used to the flavour and your dislike will subside.

A lesson from the Chinese
Even if a certain food doesn’t end up one of your favourites, learning to at least enjoy once or twice a week will enrich your life and help you develop an appreciation for novelty and variety. The Chinese culture is renowned for its emphasis on a variety of textures in food and this preference allows them to enjoy a more diverse and interesting range of ingredients than Western cultures.

Let’s face it; there can’t be much fun in being a fussy eater. Yes it’s true that taste is subjective, but most of the time we don’t really come up with rational reasons for disliking certain foods. Surely an open minded, receptive attitude to all foods is more convenient and helps you to develop a deeper passion for food and nutrition.

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