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3 Reasons It’s Hard to Change What You Eat

Have you ever noticed that when you try to change what you eat, you slip back to eating what you’re used to if you’re not careful? And you may feel some resistance to changing your food choices at all, especially if you’re not familiar with many good alternatives.

I was thinking about this recently because we’re coming up on Thanksgiving in the U.S., a holiday with foods that are so traditional that it feels like you’re doing something wrong not to have them.

That got me thinking about some reasons why it can be hard to change food choices to begin with.

Path of least resistance

If you’ve developed certain habits around what you eat, then your grocery shopping and cooking probably don’t feel quite so daunting. You’ve got a routine down, and it’s easy to keep doing that.

Trying to do something different, though, requires some thought, time, and energy – and if you’ve already got a lot on your plate, that can feel like too much to deal with.

For example, my doctor recently recommended that I try to get more protein in my diet, but that’s not as straightforward as it might sound. While I eat meat and fish, I try to keep my intake fairly low, for both moral and budget reasons. I also can’t eat eggs, and I can only eat so much dairy before my body complains.

That leaves things like nuts and seeds (which can also be a bit pricey), beans and legumes, soy-based products like tofu, and protein powder.

So, it’s not impossible to add more protein, but I also have to decide what to take out to make room for the protein. That takes some thought, and it feels hard to focus on that with all the other things going on in the world.

Still, I’m trying, and I keep reminding myself that while it may take some effort to try new recipes, it’s good to have some variety, and I may discover some new favorites.

Emotional connections

Another reason it can be hard to try new foods is that you may have emotional connections to the foods you currently eat.

For example, say you learned how to make a certain dish from a parent or grandparent, and you remember learning how to make it as a kid or young adult. Making that dish now will likely remind you of the warmth and comfort of the earlier days when you learned how to make it. Maybe the recipe has even been passed down over many generations. You can’t just stop making it, can you?

Of course you don’t have to stop making the recipe unless you want to. But maybe you could make it a little less often and try creating some new memories with different recipes.

Fear of cooking

And maybe you’re not the best cook in the world, and you’re worried that you won’t do a good job with something new.

I was thinking about this after recently re-watching Julie & Julia (and as an aside, I was very sorry to hear that Julie Powell recently died). Watching the movie, I was reminded that Julia Child seemed fearless in the kitchen, and she inspired Julie to overcome some kitchen fears as well.

But neither of them got their courage because they started as great cooks or were perfect. Rather, their courage came from not being afraid of making mistakes and learning from them.

So, if fear of your cooking ability is keeping you back, try to think about it differently. Go into it knowing you won’t be perfect, but also knowing that you can always try again when you make a mistake.

Make new and keep the old

I remember as a Girl Scout learning the song, “Make new friends but keep the old / One is silver and the other gold.”

I think the same applies to food. It’s great to have some standbys and favorites, but it’s also great to try new things – when you have the time and energy for it. Just remember not to let fear stop you, and you may be surprised by discovering some new foods that you love.


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