The Fear of Eating Healthy

Over the past decade I have made numerous changes to my diet to include healthier choices, some have been easy and some have seemed torturous at the time.  Almost all the major changes have been accompanied by a twinge of fear or at least hesitation.  Fear of what, you may ask—Well, as you become more conscious of your food choices and more aware that a truly healthy diet means leaving behind a lot of familiarity and relearning many of the skills associated with eating this can be quite intimidating!  Healthy eating is in many ways an emotional choice as much as it is based on factual knowledge of eating the “right” foods.

I have found it empowering to reflect on my fears and articulate them.  I’d like to tackle one fear at a time in a series of posts beginning with today’s fear:

Fear of trying new foods and trying to get your family to try new foods.

I am a pretty adventurous eater, but I am cheap.  I often hesitate to purchase a new food because I don’t want it to go to waste if I can’t stomach it!  I like to be sure I am going to like something before spending my hard earned cash!  So, I will often ponder trying new foods for months before actually purchasing something.  I have even visited foods at the store several times before committing to the purchase.  Funny, I know, but true nonetheless.

Like I said, I am compelled to try things because of the adventure of trying new things—my husband does not share these feelings.  I can totally understand his perspective though.  I am in control of the food I eat because I go to the store and buy it and then cook it.  In many ways, he isn’t.  He gets home from work and eats whatever I made him.  I can imagine that from time to time this puts him into shock.  For example, I went to the dentist yesterday and we were talking about green smoothies–I have yet to try one, but now I’m intrigued.  My husband has no idea that he is going to get one of these one day when I finally work up the nerve to put spinach in my blender!

I think it is easier to make big changes in your diet when you are making the choice for yourself.  When I make a change in my diet it is out of conviction based on solid research and a passion for making a better choice.  Having that sense of control is important if any change is going to be longterm—especially if the taste isn’t immediately amazing!

If you really want to make better food choices, you will need to look at this change as an adventure and not as torture.  For me, the adventure begins way before tasting a new food.  It begins when you learn about why something is healthy and how God created it to sustain you.  It begins when you take control of the change in your eating and you become free to grow and change as a person.

All this talk about adventure doesn’t mean you won’t be discouraged when your family or friends try your new concoctions.  Don’t lose heart when they whine and complain about your latest dinner experiment.  Keep trying, you may be surprised to hit a home run or two when you introduce new foods on a regular basis.

Darya over at Summer Tomato has an interesting article on convincing your family to eat healthy food.  She suggests that you have to convince naysayers with the way you describe the food and show your excitement for what you are serving.  I agree!  This definitely works when I know I have a winner on my hands, the trouble for me comes when I’m not so sure about the food myself.  Hard to sell to someone else when I’m still convincing myself!

I have found that trying new foods based on the recommendations of friends and family as well as trusted blogs and other recipe sites that have a rating system has greatly improved my success rate with cooking and eating unfamiliar foods.  There is something reassuring about knowing that someone you trust has eaten something and not only survived but enjoyed it enough to tell you about it.

Getting tips on how to prepare new foods correctly is also critical.  If you don’t make it right, it won’t taste right!  Find detailed instructions that answer your questions and reassure you that you are on the right track.  I like to look for sites that tell me the good and the bad, so my expectations are more realistic.

Here’s a sneak peak at some of my other fears related to eating healthy.  I’ll cover fear of being a food snob in my next post.

  • Fear of being a food snob.
  • Fear of making others feel uncomfortable because of your restrictive diet.
  • Fear of looking or feeling stupid because you are clueless about what to buy or how to shop at the health food store.
  • Fear of being judged by where you are on your eating journey by those further along or more extreme in their healthy lifestyle.
  • Fear of leaving the familiar, having to learn to cook differently, enjoy social settings differently, and even spend your money differently.