Food is not just eating energy. It’s an experience. – Guy Fieri
Do you consider yourself a picky eater? Do you look the opposite way when you see a salad or vegetables on someone else’s plate? I certainly did! As a kid, I wouldn’t eat anything but nuggets. And not any nuggets, (Fast Food)… King nuggets. It’s not that my parents and grandmother didn’t try because they truly did. I just plain refused. I would have preferred to go hungry. And I did go hungry on a few occasions to make a point on my refusal.
As a teenager, I started having some stomach problems as you could imagine. Even though my palate had expanded to French fries and the occasional rice and beans with chicken, I was not eating well enough. My diet was supplemented by prescribed shakes and vitamins. I seemed healthy and active but suffered from constipation and some heartburn. After one of those painful episodes, a family friend that’s a pediatrician had a one on one talk with me about my diet and my water intake. At first, I didn’t care much but it intrigued me to know that I was in control of how I felt by just deciding what I would eat. And when you are a teenager you want to feel in control. That’s when my passion for science and nutrition was born.
I slowly started venturing into new foods and even paying attention to the amount of water intake. Since I was involved in sports and physical activities, this made a significant improvement in my stamina and performance. But don’t be fooled, it’s not like I was eating salads and all sorts of vegetables either. It was just a step. Then, came college… That was a rough time for my diet at first but since I was studying biology, I had the advantage of learning first hand some of the effects of our habits had on our bodies. I even became vegetarian, which I slowly drifted from towards the end, but I felt much better and my palate started to accept these new flavors.
Fast-forward a few years after graduation and I found myself working at a fine dining restaurant with all these chefs preparing these delicious meals and waiting for my input. I will admit it was exciting and frightening at the same time. Blind tastings? Are you kidding me? I used to beg them to tell me what was in it. But they assured me that as long as I had no known food allergies, I would be fine. And so, I dove into the culinary adventure and LOVED IT! I know the whole blind tasting experience is not for everyone. But that was my adventurous side, I guess. Plus, I started thinking, these guys are just sharing their training and what they know. People pay hundreds of dollars to eat their food and they are my friends trying to expand my taste buds and food knowledge, so why not? This food adventure changed my life. I started even preparing new dishes at home. The kitchen became my lab and my body was receiving the benefits.
Many more life events have continued to push my passion for discovering and tasting new foods. I continued to educate myself on the many benefits of a healthy diet. Six years ago, I ventured into a plant-based diet and haven’t looked back since. My family still can’t believe that the picky little girl now eats plant-based. It was my choice and I am not saying it should be everyone’s. But here is what I’ve taken from my experience and now try to pass to my daughters and share with you.
It’s never too late to develop your taste for whole, fresh and nutritious food.
What we eat and the way we treat food is how the younger generations will learn too.
It’s a life process. There are always going to be things you won’t like. But always be open to trying. Enjoy the experience. After all, expanding your eating habits to healthier food is the best gift you will give yourself. It’s all for you!
photo by Alexandra Andersson