How expanding your palate can benefit your health in a variety of ways from improving your relationship with food to helping to keep things fun and fresh in the kitchen.
As a dietitian I believe being open to trying new foods (specifically plant foods) is one of the best (and most underrated!) things we can do for our health.
Sure, not liking something is a small risk, but it’s totally worth the reward for your health today and in the long run if you do end up liking the food and it becomes part of your diet.
Not only can being open to new fruits and vegetables help keep your food life more fun and exciting, but it can also improve your gut health, positively impact your relationship with food, and add more nutrition to your diet overall.
An added bonus of expanding your palate is how much more amazing it makes traveling when you’re open to trying food from places you’ve never been before. More on that below!
I’m challenging you to pick up a new fruit or vegetable the next time you’re grocery shopping to try something new and benefit your health at the same time!
How to Be More Open to New Foods
I get it. Your mom always made cauliflower a certain way when you were growing up and now you can barely look at it. Or you tried fish once as a kid and hated it. We all have those foods from childhood that we swear we hate because we didn’t like them back then.
The thing is our tastebuds change and chances are if you had that food again at a restaurant, prepared differently with other flavors your accustom to, you might actually really like it. You’ll never know if you’re not open to trying.
In order to work on expanding your palette, you need to let go of all previous notions about a certain food and be open to trying it again knowing you’re a mature adult this time and that you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Your future self will thank you!
How Expanding Your Palate Can Benefit Your Health
Keeps Things Fun & Fresh in The Kitchen — Challenging yourself to pick up a new fruit or vegetable might be exactly what you need to feel re-inspired to get in your kitchen and cook a meal. I’m guilty of making the same types of meals over and over again for lunches and dinners which can feel so boring and repetitive. When I notice that’s happening, I challenge myself to pick up a new vegetable and make something new with it.
In this day and age of countless recipes and food blogs on the internet, it’s easy to find a recipe that looks fun, and incorporates a vegetable that you might not typically use. Making a point to do so can spice up your food life and add more nutrition to your diet — win, win!
Adds More Nutrition to Your Diet — Trying a new fruit or vegetable adds new nutrition into your body. Different colored fruits and vegetables contain different amounts of vitamins, mineral and antioxidants — all really good for our health today and in the long run. Being open to trying new plant foods on a regular basis is a great way to ensure you’re getting adequate amounts of nutrition including anti- inflammatory benefits that strengthen our immune system and more.
Good for Gut Health – The world’s largest citizen science microbiome project showed that incorporating around 30 different plant foods into your diet a week increases gut diversity (gut diversity helps the gut stay healthy!). At first when you read 30 different plant foods you might say that feels extremely overwhelming but think about it like one to two fruits or vegetables at every meal. Doesn’t that feel a lot more doable?!
We continue to learn so much about how our gut health impacts different aspects of our health like digestion, mood, immunity and more. Keeping our gut populated with the beneficial bacteria it needs to thrive is something easy we can do that has a big impact on our health overall.
Improves Your Relationship with Food — For those of us who may have struggled with food rules, trying “new” foods that don’t fit into your typical eating routine can feel scary at first. Perhaps these were foods that you thought weren’t healthy or that you couldn’t eat a certain way. Diet culture spreads a lot of messages (even about healthy foods) that are not true but unfortunately turn into food rules for some of us.
Too much sugar in bananas? That statement is just bananas! You get the picture.
Being open to trying new foods shows you that our relationship with food is indeed the healthiest and most fun when it’s flexible. This level of flexibility that comes from ordering something spontaneous on the menu because it sounds good, or eating gelato every day because you’re in Europe allows you to trust your body more and shows you that a well balanced diet includes a wide variety of different foods.
A bonus way expanding your palate enriches your health and your food life is when you travel. When you’re open to trying new foods in new places you can seriously have some of the most amazing food of your life — as a foodie, it’s my favorite part of going somewhere new!
So next time you’re at the grocery store or farmers market, I challenge you to pick up a new fruit or vegetable to try. You may have just found something you really like to eat that will be adding more nutrition to your diet for years to come!
Recipe Inspiration to Help Expand Your Palate
Ready to try something new? Check these fun recipes that are some of my favorites on this site and follow me on Instagram for more daily inspo!