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Published on February 28, 2018

woman deciding to eat vegetables-coming out of your food comfort zone

Adventurous or familiar food choices

By Joni Ralph, RD, Gundersen Nutrition Therapy

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Coming out of your comfort zone with food.

When you think about your favorite foods, what types of things come to your mind? Possibly a favorite dish your family prepared while you were growing up, or the certain foods that popped up year after year at the holidays or on your birthday.

You may only have been exposed to a limited number of different types of foods from a small child and those regular choices became a standard that you gravitate towards or you may have started out being known as a picky eater as a child, and that label stayed with you into adulthood.That's what your parents or guardians told you, and you came to believe it is true that you only like a handful of foods.

Meat and potatoes, pizza, chicken noodle soup or a plain meat and cheese sandwich – the regular "fare" that are not strange or complicated to prepare. It can become very comfortable to stay within a limited set of food choices, because it provides predictability and guarantees that you'll be satisfied. You know what you are going to get!

Think variety

However, staying with a limited diet that does not provide balance, variety or interest when it comes to healthy eating! It is important to choose a variety of foods from within each food group because different foods provide different types and amounts of key nutrients.

Choosing a variety of foods will also help to make your meals interesting, so that you don't get bored with your diet. When choices come from all five food groups in as much variety as possible including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods and dairy, the greater the chance of getting all the nutrients your body needs It can also be exciting and create more variety in your life to venture out with different food choices!

Do you usually always have potatoes at dinner? Why not try a new recipe, such as Sage Polenta as a delicious accompaniment instead. Polenta is made from ground cornmeal, which is then boiled to create a porridge-like consistency. Do you always eat regular head lettuce as a salad?

There are many different greens that will pop your taste buds and be more nutrient dense such as kale, arugula or spinach. Do you usually always make the same type of sandwich and accompany it with chips? Why not add a new fruit such as apricots, kiwi, Asian Pears or dried cranberries instead? Come out of your comfort zone and be open to a world of food explorations. You'll be glad you took the journey!

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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