One comment I often get when I talk about mindful eating is something like - “Does that mean I never have to eat vegetables again? I’m never going to crave those.”
There are a lot of steps to go through to get to a place where you’re truly listening to your body and your cravings and eating in honor of them. Once you get there, I believe there’s a way to honor your cravings and food preferences and still be open to new tastes and food experiences.
When we talk about introducing children to new foods, we often hear the saying that it takes 10 tries of tasting a new flavor for a child to like it. Some people say the number is as low as 7, while others go as high as 20. That doesn’t end at a certain age; you’re often not going to like a new flavor on the first try.
In life, and especially if you want to live mindfully, it’s important to maintain a sense of curiosity about the world. That curiosity should naturally extend to food. So although you may not crave foods you’ve never had (or maybe only had once or twice) you should be curious about them.
I’ll use myself as an example - until about 4 years ago, I had never eaten a Brussel sprout in my life. One day at a restaurant I shared a Brussel sprout dish with a friend. Brussel sprouts have a very strong flavor, and I certainly wouldn’t say I liked them on the first try. But I was intrigued, so the next time I saw them on a menu, I ordered them. Then I started buying them and experimenting myself. Now I can honestly say that I have times where I crave Brussel sprouts (much to my husband’s dismay).
On the other hand, I am not a fan of eggplant. I would say at this point in my life, I’ve probably tried eggplant a couple dozen times. There was a moment a few years ago (after I made it the last time) where I gave myself permission to not eat it anymore. I think eggplants are beautiful, the deep purple is always tempting at the grocery store. There are a lot of dishes with flavors that I know I enjoy that call for eggplant. And eggplant has a variety of nutritious benefits (it’s rich in fiber and a number of vitamins and minerals). But when I eat eggplant, I never feel satisfied. It’s not a flavor or texture that I enjoy, despite trying it a variety of ways, so I don’t eat it.
If this idea of being curious about vegetables, or food in general, seems crazy to you, start small. Be open to being curious and see where that takes you. Life, and food, is all about adventure.
Taryn is a Los Angeles based Registered Dietitian who's passionate about helping you be your healthiest you.