From Picky Eater to Adventurous Food Lover: The Ultimate Guide to Overcoming Adult Selective Eating to Heal Your Body

When I initially was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, celiac, which is an issue with my body’s ability to digest wheat or more specifically gluten, my world was turned upside-down.  It was 1996 and little was known about this autoimmune disease and “gluten-free” was not a mainstream thing.  I had 2 young children who were 4 and 3 and I was OVERWHELMED!

After more than 3 years of being misdiagnosed and mishandled by the medical community, I was relieved to have a diagnosis, because at times I was led to think it was all in my head.  The years of struggle with this disease had taken its toll and I was really anxious, depressed, and feeling as though I would never have a “normal” life again.

My marriage was strained, my children were not being properly cared for because I was so ill and my family couldn’t understand what it was I was dealing with or how to help me. 

I was in and out of the hospital over those 3 years with symptoms as severe as a gastrointestinal bleed, requiring no oral intake of food and a nasogastric tube (a tube that is placed up your nose and down into your stomach to drain the blood).  I lost 35 lbs and a good bunch of my hair.  You can imagine how devastating this is for a 26-year-old.

Once I started working with a more holistic practitioner, who was a medical doctor, but worked from the bigger picture rather than just writing a prescription for symptoms, I started to piece my life back together and really heal and regain my health.   

Little by little, I made changes to my eating habits and diet.  I learned the importance of stress management and found ways to balance rest and activity.  

If you have celiac, you understand that diet changes are everything.  This was so difficult in 1996 because we were a young family, with limited resources, and back then, gluten-free foods were not found in many places. 

The other barrier to overcome was trying to prepare meals for my family while feeding myself this new modified diet.  It was not easy, but the more I committed to this process, the better I started to feel and the more I was able to show up as my best self for my family and MYSELF!

From understanding the causes and impacts of adult selective eating to embracing variety, trying new foods, and maintaining a balanced diet, we have got you covered. So get ready to challenge your mindset, step out of your comfort zone, and explore the joy of becoming an adventurous food lover. Are you ready to embark on this flavorful journey? Let’s dive in!

Understanding Adult Selective Eating: Causes and Impacts

To truly overcome adult selective eating, we must first delve into the underlying causes and understand the impacts of this seemingly harmless habit. Adult selective eating, also known as picky eating, can stem from a variety of factors, both internal and external. These causes can range from sensory sensitivities to traumatic experiences with food, cultural influences, or simply a lack of exposure to diverse cuisines. Whatever the root cause may be, the impact of adult selective eating can be significant and far-reaching.

Challenging the Mindset: Embracing Variety and Trying New Foods

Understanding the causes and impacts of adult selective eating is crucial in our journey to overcome this habit. By recognizing the root causes, we can address them directly and work towards expanding our culinary horizons. Equally important is acknowledging the impacts and how they affect our physical and emotional well-being. Armed with this knowledge, we can adopt strategies and techniques to challenge our mindset, break free from the limitations of adult selective eating, and embrace a world of new flavors and experiences.

Our limited perspective can stem from various factors such as childhood experiences, sensory sensitivities, or simply a fear of the unknown.

By challenging our mindset and embracing variety, we lay the foundation for expanding our culinary horizons and conquering adult selective eating. This shift in perspective sets the stage for the next step in our journey: gradual exposure therapy, where we step out of our comfort zone and start experimenting with new foods in a controlled and manageable way.

Gradual Exposure Therapy: Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

It’s important to approach this process with a positive and curious mindset. Instead of thinking of trying new foods as a chore or a challenge, view it as an exciting adventure. Embrace the opportunity to explore different flavors, textures, and aromas.

By challenging our mindset and embracing variety, we lay the foundation for expanding our culinary horizons and conquering adult selective eating. This shift in perspective sets the stage for the next step in our journey: even just trying 1 new food every week can be a step in the right direction.

One effective technique is to pick one specific food group or category to focus on at a time. For example, if you’re not a fan of vegetables, you might begin by exploring different types of leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or arugula. Start by incorporating small amounts of these vegetables into dishes you already enjoy, like pasta or stir-fries, or even in a smoothie (which will bury the flavor in the other ingredients).  As you become more comfortable, you can gradually increase the portion sizes or try different cooking methods to further expand your palate.

For example, if you love spaghetti, try adding some roasted vegetables or different types of meat to the sauce. This way, you can maintain the familiarity of your go-to meal while incorporating new flavors and textures. By making small, incremental changes to your meals, you’ll be less likely to get overwhelmed and more likely to stick with your newfound adventurousness.

Building a Supportive Food Environment: Tips for Meal Planning and Dining Out

By gradually expanding our comfort zone and incorporating new foods into our diet, we are better prepared to face the challenges and joys of dining out or meal planning. Building a supportive food environment becomes easier when we’ve already begun to overcome our selective eating tendencies.

When it comes to meal planning, it’s important to have a strategy in place that encourages variety and experimentation. Start by creating a weekly meal plan that incorporates both familiar and new ingredients. This way, you can gradually introduce yourself to different flavors without feeling overwhelmed. Look for recipes or dishes that include ingredients you may not typically gravitate towards, but that have received positive reviews from others.

In addition to incorporating new foods into your meal plan, it’s also important to create a supportive dining environment when eating out. Before choosing a restaurant, take some time to research their menu options. Look for places that offer a wide array of dishes, including vegetarian or gluten-free options if needed.

When dining out, it can be helpful to bring a friend or loved one who understands and supports your journey toward expanding your food choices. Having someone by your side who can provide encouragement and help you navigate the menu can make the experience more enjoyable. Additionally, consider starting with smaller portions or sharing dishes, allowing you to try a wider variety of flavors without feeling overwhelmed.

Ultimately, building a supportive food environment is about surrounding yourself with people and places that embrace your desire to overcome selective eating. By taking small steps, being patient with yourself, and celebrating every little victory along the way, you’ll gradually expand your comfort zone and be ready to explore new flavors in creative ways.

Barriers to Making the Shift:

We can often run into barriers to making this shift.  For those of us with autoimmune diseases, our symptoms and diseases are often misunderstood.  So trying to explain our new way of eating can be exhausting when people close to us have so many questions.

Even going to a social event, like a birthday party can produce anxiety due to the challenges we face when we get there and realize there is almost nothing we can eat.   While it may be frustrating to explain over and over again, remember it’s not your job to make others understand.  Just stick to your plan and know they will move on to the next thing soon enough. 

Finances can also be a burden for many who are trying to eat clean.  I have relied on several resources including Misfits Market, where I can get food delivered that has cleaner ingredients, is fresher, and is generally much less expensive than most stores.

Misfits Market

Another great place to try is Aldi.  They often have many organic and allergen-free items that are perfect if you are dealing with an autoimmune disease and are trying to heal and decrease inflammation through your diet. 

Finally, just decreasing the amount of processed foods you eat will help you to make great strides in your health and healing.  Stay away from canned and boxed items as much as possible.  Stick with fresh items and you will be amazed at how much better you feel.

After all of these years, I have had on-and-off struggles with sticking to my diet to deal with my celiac, but what have I learned?  No food tastes good enough to replace my FEELING GREAT and living a life where I am not suffering from symptoms. 

So, why wait? Start your transformation today and unlock the doors to a vibrant and adventurous food lover within you. Embrace the flavors, the experiences, and the limitless possibilities. As Julia Child once said, “The only real stumbling block is fear of trying. Once you overcome that hurdle, you’ll open up a whole new world of possibilities.”

Remember, a journey of a thousand flavors begins with a single bite. Don’t let picky eating hold you back from the incredible culinary experiences that await you. Embrace the joy of becoming an adventurous food lover and savor every moment. Bon appétit!

If you are looking for information, resources, or help to get you on track to healing your body through food, please feel free to message me!  I read all of my emails and am happy to help where I can!

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