Overcoming the Fear of Trying New Foods

I know that the core struggle for picky eaters is really overcoming the fear of trying new foods. But that can be so hard to do for kids of all ages. If you read my July 2020 Food of the Month posts, you know my green bean tastings did not go well at all. I did not like green beans when I thought I would, and it was incredibly disappointing. It has gotten to the point that I have not considered yet what I want to do for my August Food of the Month (I am writing this on August 4, so I’m very behind!).

Overcoming the Fear and Pushing Ahead

When I start getting down, I tell myself something that others have said to me in the past. Just because you don’t like that food doesn’t mean you won’t like the next. Just keep trying! But sometimes trying can be so tiring, especially when it feels like it gets me nowhere fast. I need to remember that even though I seemed to fail this month, that doesn’t mean this journey is pointless. Sure, I don’t like green beans, but peppers were a huge success and are now a regular part of my diet! I need to keep pushing through and trying new foods.

Falling Into My Slump

Finding the next Food of the Month was hard for me this past week. I couldn’t get past the feeling of defeat or the thought that my progress has stopped. I searched through Pinterest and watched cooking shows to see if anything jumped out at me. Eventually, I had to tell Drew I had no idea what I was going to do. He immediately suggested we walk around HyVee and see if anything jumps out to me. I was still so down I couldn’t see any potential with the food around me. Drew would point out food left and right, giving ideas and suggestions, and asking if anything sounded good to me. I said “no” to everything we saw. I was still so obsessed over the failure that was my July Food of the Month attempt that I didn’t even want to try.

This is a pretty normal feeling for me. Growing up I’d try a new food, hate it, then avoid new foods for weeks at a time. When I’m stuck in these moods, I struggle to imagine that I’d like a new food, so I don’t consider it. Poor Drew had to accept the brunt of my frustrations but thankfully took it all in stride. He knows me enough to know that if I’m down, I struggle to pull myself out of it. So as part of my support team he worked hard to lift me out of my slump, but I couldn’t get out of it.

Trying green beans
Gathering the courage to try green beans

How the Fear of Trying New Foods Led Me to Want to Help Others

Co-occurring anxiety and a lack of interest in food are two warning signs/symptoms of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). These two symptoms were on display as we wandered HyVee for what felt like hours as I rejected one food after the next. Like I said, this has happened to me a lot over the years, which only increases my suspicion that I have this disorder. I know others feel this way too, so I want to be totally vulnerable with this issue so that others know they are not alone and have someone to reach out to for support! I was able to get out of this slump eventually, but it took a few days to do it.

Co-occurring anxiety and a lack of interest in food are something I have struggled with a lot in my life. They also happen to be two symptoms of ARFID.

Finding My Next Food of the Month

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

After quite a few days of only eating food I like, I was able to clear my mind enough to approach August’s Food of the Month differently. I realized that I could continue with some food I already kind of like, but want to continue to work on. It was Saturday, August 8, and Drew and I had just come home from a morning fishing trip. I was famished and couldn’t stop thinking about my mom’s egg dish that she makes every Christmas morning. Then it hit me, I finally tried that dish last year (2018) and was excited that I started to like eggs and ham. I then reached out to my sisters and asked for the recipe – eggs were going to be my Food of the Month.

I was so relieved when I decided this. Not just because I finally decided on my Food of the Month, but because it is a food I sort of like, but there’s still have some room to improve. Also, by finding a new food to work on I am slowly but surely working on overcoming the fear of trying new foods. I am excited to get to work on these tastings and sharing it with you!

What You Can Take From This:

  • Pay attention to your picky eater’s feelings. If they are anxious, down, or disconnected, then be sure to check in on them to make sure they’re ok. Maybe they just need a break from trying new foods, and that is ok! Everyone needs a break at some point, so let them have one when they need it.
  • Be ok with taking things slow. One thing I have been doing is jumping in feet first on totally different foods that I wasn’t 100% sure on, and I got dinged for it. Now I’m taking it slow to work on a food that I kind of like but am still a little wary of. 
  • Follow along as I work on liking eggs! I bet there are picky eaters out there that are just as interested in eating eggs as I am. Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to see how my tastings go and learn a thing or two about eggs along the way!
Get Your Picky Eater to Try New Food in Six Simple Steps
Get Your Picky Eater to Try New Food in Six Simple Steps

July Food of the Month – Green Beans

Even though it’s already a third of the way through July (where is the time going?!) it’s time to announce my July Food of the Month!

Like many picky eaters, green veggies have never truly appealed to me. Sure I learned to like lettuce and spinach when salads were the only thing I was willing to try, but that’s as far as I was willing to go. As for green beans, peas, brussel sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, you name it, I stayed far away from those! But it was hard not to notice the pattern of these kinds of greens showing up to my favorite foods at restaurants. Like peppers, I figured this was a sign that I should maybe/possibly/kinda/wanna focus on green beans because they’re almost always part of a meal. But I definitely need picky eater-friendly recipes to do so.

Photo Credit: Freddie Collins

Drew was the one to bring up the idea of me trying green beans as one of my foods of the month. I once tried Szechuan green beans at a restaurant per a table mate’s urging and kind of liked them. Side note: this was the second time I ever met this person and first time I ever ate with her. She had no idea of my picky eating so I let her “encouragement” for me to try them slide.

Drew has a recipe he thinks I’ll love, but I have to be honest I was nervous when he first brought it up. But then he revealed how he well he knows me.

I believe our  conversation went something like this:

Drew: I have a green bean dish I used to make all the time that I think you’ll like!

Me: Eeeh…

Drew: They’re cooked completely in bacon!

Me: 🤤 OK, fine.

Photo Credit: Michelle @New Layer Photography

I’m a firm believer that bacon makes everything better. It might not be my Noom coach’s opinion, but I won’t back down!

So, the very first recipe I plan to make and try in July is Drew’s bacon green beans! After that I’m going to try out similar recipes to the Szechuan green beans I tried before, then probably go for some fried green beans. I really don’t have a desire to try fried green beans, but I’m sure it’s one way for parents of picky eaters to give to their child. So I’ll follow suite and send along any tips I come up with! I’m thinking a hot dipping sauce will be a good sidekick for these beans.

If you have a green bean recipe you think I’ll love, leave a comment or link below! I’d love to see what you guys are cooking for your picky eaters. Just one request, no green bean casseroles! Even if I liked green beans I would probably ask to skip that dish 😅


Buffalo Chicken-Stuffed Peppers

Second June Food of the Month Attempt – Buffalo Chicken-Stuffed Peppers

For my second food of the month tasting I tried Delish’s Buffalo Chicken-Stuffed Peppers and they’re. So. Good. I have to be honest, I was worried about eating an entire chunk (yes, I mentally call it a chunk) of pepper, but I’m so glad I took the risk! 

When picking out my meals to try this month, this one stood out to me as a possible success for a few reasons:

  • I love buffalo chicken (wraps, dips, sandwiches, you name it!)
  • Spice, for me, is a great way to disguise a flavor that I’m still not sure about, while still allowing the food’s essence to come through (in this case, the pepper’s crispness and fresh zing)
  • These peppers are covered in cheese—a direct path to this picky eater’s heart
  • Peppers are crispy, and if there’s anything a picky eater likes most it’s a crunchy texture!

The Prep

I was in charge of preparing the meal, which I liked because then I can control what goes in and how much! I decided to add a bit more seasoning and hot sauce than the recipe calls for because I knew that would help my chances of liking the food. Plus, having control over my food is a good way to boost my confidence in trying the food. If I know exactly what is in my dish then I feel more comfortable with the idea of trying a new recipe.

Drew and I worked quickly to get this meal together before he had to take off with two of the girls for soccer, so I wouldn’t describe the prep as “high quality,” but we made do! We didn’t have rotisserie chicken, so we had to completely thaw and cook some chicken breasts before we could get started with the rest of the ingredients. We used our awesome Ninja Foodi to thaw and quickly cook frozen chicken before tossing it in the pan.

Because we live in Minnesota and our grilling days are limited, we decided to throw the peppers on the grill instead of cooking them in the oven. Not only did this satisfy all our grilling desires (no matter how short that lasts!) it gave the peppers a nice char, increasing their crispness and adding a little Smokey flavor I love. I’d recommend doing this if you love those two things, but if your picky eater doesn’t like the char taste or is afraid of the black stuff on their food, then for goodness sake put them in the oven!

Because I’m not a huge chives/green onion fan, I actually nixed adding them to the main dish. Instead we simply used them as a garnish when dishing up. Eventually I could see myself adding it in once I’m more used to its taste, but for now chives are perfectly fine on the side!

The Tasting 

I decided to use my trick of disguising the food with even more cheese, hot sauce, and tortilla chips once I dished up my meal. This is a great trick for when a picky eater is unsure of a new taste or texture – load up the meal with what they like and they’re more likely to accept the new food! Even just by changing the appearance a little bit can be a game changer once it comes time to try the new food.

Thankfully I was by myself when I tried the food so I didn’t feel like I had an audience. I took my time finding a good, crispy bite of pepper that had lots of chicken and cheese on top. I skipped the chives for the moment because I wanted to be sure there were plenty of tastes that I like on top of the new food. I took a moment to do my usual inspection (i.e., looking at the bite from all angles so I know what to expect – my friends and family know that look well!), then took the bite. 

It was SO GOOD. I couldn’t believe how much I liked it! The first thing I tasted was the buffalo chicken, which was my goal with loading the pepper up with sauce and seasonings. The pepper added a nice crunch and it’s flavor only came in at the end. It didn’t cover the other flavors, which is what I was afraid would happen, so I’m very happy about that!

My bonus daughter, Addy, tried it and liked it too! It’s always a fun win to have a nine-year-old like a healthy meal. 

What You Can Take From This

I highly recommend doing several of the things I did while prepping this meal:

  • I picked a meal that I knew I liked most of the components so at least I could fall back on the foods I liked if I didn’t like the peppers.
  • Let the picky eater add seasonings and salt.
  • Add less of the “unsure foods” – for me, this meant not adding chives to the recipe but instead using them as a light garnish.
  • Prepare food in a way your picky eater likes best (baked, roasted, grilled, fried, etc.). This will help them be more comfortable with trying a new food. In this example, we cooked the peppers in a grill instead of the oven because I like the char on the peppers and Smokey flavor. 
  • Let them eat in peace – I was very comfortable eating by myself, though I know that isn’t always possible if your picky eater is young. Try to remove pressure and expectations on your picky eater by giving them space when they’re trying something new. Whether it be avoiding watching them trying the food, talking to them about the food too much, or even telling others that they’re trying something new because that draws too much attention to them. 

What I Wish I Did Differently

The only thing I wish we did differently was get rotisserie chicken instead of cooking fresh chicken ourselves. That would have saved us a lot of time in the prep work. Otherwise I was very happy with this tasting!

Try the recipe!


First June Food of the Month Attempt – Bacon, Cheese, and Pepper Omelet

Over this past weekend Drew made everyone omelets. The core ingredients were eggs, bacon, and cheese (classic for kids and not too bad for me). That’s when it hit me that peppers are ALWAYS an option on menus, so it was time for me to bite the bullet and add some peppers to the frying pan.

Photo by Caio on Pexels.com

Now, eggs are still a relatively new food for me, and the one tip I’ve had for others is to add a lot of food you already know you like to the food you’re trying. With this meal I was turning that tip on the side a bit by adding a second food I still wasn’t sure about, peppers, to a food I’ve been working on for a while, eggs.

I picked out a nice, red pepper and chopped about half of it into small cubes. I didn’t add all of it to the omelet – in comparison to the full pepper I really didn’t add much – but while I was eating I found myself picking around the peppers or adding a lot more cheese and bacon bites to try to mask the pepper taste. This worked for the most part, but I found myself taking little breaks between particularly peppery pieces before going for another forkful.

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

I was overwhelmed at points with the taste of the peppers and needed a coffee break for a chance to gather myself to try again.

What I Took from This

The loudest voice in my head was screaming, “There are way too many peppers in here!!” And it was right. I was over eager in wanting to try the pepper, so I kept dropping more pieces in the pan. What I should have done is cut less peppers to start with and then add even less to my omelet.

It took me a while to finish eating because I was overwhelmed at points with the taste of the peppers and needed a coffee break for a chance to gather myself again. I also found myself letting the peppers fall off of my fork, so I sometimes didn’t even get one with that bite.

What You Can Take Away from This -Learn From My Mistakes

Don’t do what I did. Yes, it’s exciting to think about your child trying a new food you’re sure they’ll love, but that doesn’t mean they’ll want to taste it in every bite. Instead add the new food sparingly and spaced far apart. Then they’ll have breaks from the new food and enjoy the food they already like. This will keep the tasting more positive and comfortable for your picky eater.

Even better, have them add the new food themselves! Then they can control what they’re eating and feel more confident once it comes time to try the food. Giving them some control over what they’re eating will do wonders with their confidence.