When was the last time you picked a new food to try? If you’ve found yourself cooking the same old things over and over again, let me be the one to tell you that incorporating new and different foods into your diet can be beneficial in many ways – for everything from your health to your social life!
Did you know the average person eats only 25-30 different food items in a given week? Think of all the countries around the world (195), and all the unique foods that must be in each of them. If you’re only eating 25-30 foods on average, the chances of your meals being diverse and unique are pretty small. That means you’re missing out on a huge number of different foods that could easily be added to your diet and make your meals more exciting! If you still need convincing, here are a few reasons to try new foods!
Improve Your Health
Eating the same foods day after day will limit the nutrients you get. Many common food items (breads, cereals) are fortified with some very important vitamins to help bridges gaps for us, but these same vitamins can easily be found in fruits and vegetables! By mixing in some fruits and vegetables, you can get more of these necessary vitamins and minerals without relying so heavily on more processed foods.
Adding new foods into your diet helps give you a wider range of vitamins and minerals, as well as flavors. The advice to “eat the rainbow” comes from the idea that adding foods of different colors to your meals can provide you with the necessary nutrients you need. You can figure out the exact combination of foods to meet all of your nutritional needs, but that makes eating a science rather than an experience. Varying the colors of foods on your plate helps you skip the hard work of perfectly planning meals to meet all your nutritional needs.
A wider range of flavors might just make you enjoy your food a bit more, too! Even if you think you only like a certain number or kind of food, I want to challenge you to experiment a little bit. When we enjoy our food (whether because it makes us feel strong, comforted, or even because it just tastes really good) our mental health is improved. It's no secret that mental health is just as important as our physical health for total wellbeing.
Expand Your World, By Way of Your Mouth
Let’s go back to those 195 different countries. Each country and culture around the world is made up of specific customs and traditions. We can learn a lot about the different people in these places by experiencing them firsthand. Not many of us can pick up and travel to a different country at a moment’s notice, but the door of experience is not closed to anyone.
Trying foods from different countries allows you to peak into the life of people all around the world. Take, for example, the foods of China, which vary by region. The western parts of China have food influenced by neighboring countries, while the eastern parts include more seafood. You might think you have an idea of what an entire country or group of people eats day to day, but by delving into their culture and history you can learn a great deal about different customs throughout that country.
Meet New People
Perhaps one of the best reasons to explore a new culture is to learn more about its people. Knowing and learning only about your own culture causes you to miss important details of history, and leaves you isolated from the billions of people throughout the world.
Again, not all of us can pack our bags and fly away to an exotic location for an impromptu adventure. Fortunately, immigration happens all the time! There may even be someone from another country living in your hometown. If you live in a big city, this may even be one of your neighbors. There’s also the internet, which connects us with people all over of the globe, pretty much whenever we want to fill up that Google search bar. All of these are opportunities to reach out and meet someone new!
We all have stories to tell, and one of the most intimate spaces to share those stories is at the dinner table. I’ve written about how I want to be shaped by hospitality and part of the way I’m working to do that is by opening up my home, my table, and my inbox to people from other cultures, countries, religions, and so on. It is in this way that we can all learn a little more about each other. Hopefully, then we’ll realize we’re not all that different, and begin caring for each other better.
Whether you want to expand your diet or experience a new culture, I hope you find a way to incorporate at least one new food into your diet this week! You can find some of the recipes I’ve tried here. Happy cooking!