Pack your bags! It’s time to get out of your comfort zone with regard to food! Perhaps you are already having positive food experiences, and you want to kick it up a notch. Perhaps you want to eliminate some unhealthy choices. No matter what your situation, you can take the initiative to learn. You can be an active participant in your life and in your health.
Learning from the Huckleberry Example
We recently got out of our comfort zone as we ate huckleberries! We picked them fresh from the hiking trails at Glacier National Park in Montana.
Here are some interesting facts about huckleberries (courtesy of Wikipedia):
· They are grown typically in the Northwestern United States and Canada.
· Huckleberries are the state fruit of Idaho.
· Huckleberries are slightly smaller than a blueberry, with a sweet yet tangy flavor.
· Although huckleberries are low in nutritional value, they are also consumed to treat pain, heart conditions, and infection.
· They are delicious in pies, in or on ice cream, or our personal favorite – in smoothies!
The huckleberry experience is just one example of trying new things with regard to food. As you do so, you increase your knowledge base for all things culinary in order to create positive food experiences.
Linking Food and Action
Positive food experiences involve making the connection between food and action. It means making time to learn about ingredients and nutrition. You can then use the information you learn to benefit your own health and wellbeing. It means documenting and sharing your experiences. Most importantly, it means making those changes in your life to continue those positive food experiences.
So where do you start?
Here are 4 foolproof ways to get out of your comfort zone and create positive food experiences:
1. Understand the relationship between food and action.
Trying something new doesn’t mean you just throw something together. It takes thought and planning on your part. You can learn new information about the health benefits and use of different ingredients or food types. It doesn’t mean looking up information just for conversation purposes. It means finding and using information for the right reasons – for your health.
The closer you come to making the connection between yourself and the food you eat, and then linking that with action, the more effective your positive food experience will be.
For example, a couple of years ago, my husband read an article about the benefits of coconut oil. That information began his quest for knowledge. He spent considerable time researching coconut oil. Then he looked at articles on health websites. He read research studies in scientific journals. Then he reviewed testimonials and other personal stories of people who use coconut oil. Finally he made a conscious decision to implement coconut oil into his diet and health habits. He developed a plan for his health that included this ingredient. As a result, he has noticed a distinct improvement in many aspects of his health.
2. Consider your food attitudes.
In creating positive food experiences, you learn about your own food attitudes. Ask yourself the following questions:
· What motivates your food choices?
· What is your background regarding food choices?
· How have your food attitudes changed over the years?
If your relatives own an apple orchard, for example, you may recall fond memories of picking the fruit and preparing it to be simmered over an open fire. Just the smell of apples may trigger those memories of coming into the house as a kid and experiencing the smell, taste, and sheer delight of spiced apples. Perhaps you helped jar the fruit as apple slices or applesauce. Perhaps you helped family members to make apple desserts or use apples in savory dishes. Allowing those memories to motivate you to learn more and to do more is another step in creating positive food experiences.
3. Nurture your desire for food knowledge.
The desire for food knowledge may begin simply by reading an article or seeing a news clip about a food item or ingredient, and then wanting to know more. You can then dig for more information to get a better picture of how that ingredient works for your health. Many news articles are not always very detailed. They may not give you a lot of information, but it is a start toward knowledge of that food item. It piques your curiosity.
Then the question is whether you have the motivation to investigate the subject further and understand what they are talking about. Is it something for you or is it not? What are these things they are talking about in the article? What else can I find out about it? Then you can take that and say, “This is how I would like to proceed forward with this information. I would like to try it and see how I can benefit from it.”
A positive food experience means taking the initiative to find and use food knowledge in your life.
4. Take action.
There are thousands of recipes shared via social media every day. You may find a recipe on the web and say, “Wow, that looks amazing!” There are even recipes that show in time lapse how to make the dish. There are recipes posted to Pinterest or other social media sites. People are generally good at passing on information, but very few people actually make the recipes they share.
Why is that? Perhaps they think it will be too difficult, too time consuming, or too expensive. Maybe they don’t want to get out of their current routine (whether or not it’s a healthy routine). Maybe they are concerned about what others will think of them if they make the dish.
Instead of just exclaiming that a dish looks amazing, you could say, “Hey, I want to look into the benefits of cooking with (whatever that food is).” You get a spark of motivation into the possibilities of cooking with that food in terms of taste, interest, health, etc. Then you can put those ideas into action. Make the recipes you share. Take the initiative to look up more information about it (health benefits, general uses, recipes, etc.).
Taking Control over your Food Choices
As you learn more, you take control over your food choices. You pique your interest. Choose to not only buy a food product at a store, but also to find a recipe that uses it or to learn about other uses of the food. Involve yourself in the process.
The closer you are to the food source, the more you appreciate it. The more you are involved in the process of making food, the more you can create your own positive food experiences.
Food for Thought: I invite you to get out of your comfort zone and try something new with food. I’m not talking about mixing some random ingredients together just to say you did it. Think about your past attitudes and experiences with food. What could you do differently to create a positive food experience? If you are already creating positive food experiences in your life, how can you kick it up a notch?