Improving Your Food Acceptance Skills – Adult Picky Eaters

Monkey see, monkey do. If you want your children to eat a variety of foods, you may need to expand your food acceptance skills as well. There are many adults who have trouble with accepting foods we have never tried before. We can be alarmed by unfamiliar foods, disinclined to try new foods, or have a really short list of foods we like and will eat.


We can improve our acceptance of new foods by giving ourselves enough time and exposing ourselves to new foods in small enough doses so it is not overwhelming. Keep in mind that poor food acceptance skills likely grew out of either too few opportunities to be exposed to new foods, or too much pressure, or both. In order to improve food acceptance skills, do the opposite—give yourself lots of opportunities to try new foods and don’t pressure yourself.


Here are some suggestions for improving your food acceptance:

  • Base your meals on foods you enjoy—to experiment with the unfamiliar, you need the reassurance of the familiar
  • Pair familiar foods with unfamiliar foods, favorite with not-so-favorite (you may be braver about trying new foods if you have something familiar to fall back on)
  • When you are ready to experiment with a new food, give yourself time and an escape hatch—you can back out at any time. You don’t have to eat it all, you just have to try it!


In order to give yourself ample opportunities to be exposed to new foods without putting pressure on yourself, here are some suggestions:

  • Examine foods at the grocery store without buying them
  • Buy a small amount and prepare it without eating it
  • Put it in your mouth without swallowing it, and keep the tissues handy
  • Do this over and over again until you are ready to swallow
  • Take another bite if you want to, or not


Studies show that adults give up on a new food after only 3 tries. That’s not enough! You need 10-20 tries, or even more.  While this may seem like more work than it’s worth, your health is worth it!  Training yourself to enjoy a variety of healthful foods will definitely pay off.