Why You Should Eat Outside Your Comfort Zone

Let's be honest: how disgusting does this look? In real life, it was delicious. 
Let’s be honest: how disgusting does this look? In real life, it was delicious.

I used to be a picky eater.

As a kid, I refused marinara sauce on my spaghetti (buttered noodles with powdered parm only, thanks!). I hated anything fried (whaaaa?), ate my burgers plain, and refused to butter my toast. Why?


I had maj anxiety issues as a kid. I didn’t ever want to be the center of attention. I didn’t like people looking at me or trying to make me do anything. I didn’t ever want to try anything new, especially if it involved putting potentially gross food in my mouth.

I was scared. 

My dear Grandma Stromberg making Andy & I dinner. I'm sure I barely touched it. I'm sorry, grandma!
My dear Grandma Stromberg making Andy & I dinner. I’m sure I barely touched it. I’m sorry, grandma!

Weirdly, one of my earliest childhood memories is from a Disney cruise with my family. It was 1986 and our waiter, Vinnie, who was definitely foreign and definitely adorable, convinced me to eat escargot, drenched in garlic and butter. After much prodding, I did. It was the most delicious thing I’d ever eaten. I was four at the time, and I still remember this moment so vividly, nearly 30 years later. It’s funny– clearly, when I finally succumbed to trying new foods, I loved them. I just rarely had the courage to try new things.

Fast forward to 1998, when I started working in a kitchen.

I was 16 and had literally never cooked anything that didn’t come from a box. I didn’t even know people ate any other way. On my first day, I was handed a recipe for a bowtie pasta salad and it called for julienned yellow peppers. WTH does that mean?!

I learned so, so much at that job. 

By this point in my life, I found my fear of foods to be totally embarrassing, especially when everyone around me was so enthusiastic about eating.

And so, I made it a point to taste everything.

I tried scrambled eggs with gorgonzola cheese. They were disgusting. But the next time I had a chance to try stinky cheese, I said yes. Not as bad the second time. By the fifth time I tried crumbled bits-o-bleu, I’d actually started appreciating the flavor. It just took a little practice. Now I love the stuff.

As a person who understands the importance of trying new things, I still believe food is the easiest, most accessible way to challenge your comfort zone. It’s relatively cheap, and you’re eating all of the time anyway– why not try something new every once in a while? Who knows, you could stumble upon your new favorite food. Escargot, anyone?

I attempt to sample a few new foods every month.

Recently, I tried Epic’s lamb currant-mint bar. It sounds disgusting… and looks disgusting… but is actually delicious!

Other recent new foods:

  • Sheep’s milk yogurt. I bought this non-dairy item because my body doesn’t ‘do’ dairy in a very comfortable way. So I bought a big container at Whole Foods. It sat in my fridge for two full weeks until I worked up the courage to try it. It tasted just like cow’s milk yogurt. Anti-climactic!
  • Lamb mini-meatball dog treats. I couldn’t resist– they’re for my dog, but looked human grade. They were actually pretty amazing, and got me to thinking that maybe my dog eats better than I do.
  • Cactus water, which was like coconut water, but more tart. I made a video as I took my first swig:

I don’t think cactus water will be a part of daily routine anytime soon, but I said the same thing about coconut water a few years ago and love I drink that stuff all the time.

What foods have you grown to love over time? Weirdest thing you’ve eaten lately? Any offbeat foods that were actually a lot more delicious than you expected? Comment below!

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PS Although I do challenge myself to try new things all the time, I still can’t seem to learn to like capers. Same goes for tomatoes (though I do like them this way).



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Comments (4)

  • Jen S. 5 years ago Reply

    I’ve seen these "meat bars". I can’t get past it and I LOVE food. I’m glad you took the plunge for us, but I’m still on the fence…

    molly mogren katt 5 years ago Reply

    Want to try one? I have a bunch at my house. Send me your mailing address 🙂 heyeleanorproject@gmail.com

  • Kathryn 5 years ago Reply

    I love trying new foods, but it can be a little tricky when you have to be gluten free. On my list of foods to eat this week is cauliflower "rice". I’m also on the hunt for maitake mushrooms after trying them at a restaurant, but they’re hard to find.

    molly mogren katt 5 years ago Reply


    I just started trying Thrive Market (link above) and it’s great because they have so many whole food options for people with dietary restrictions. Two thumbs up.

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