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I Need More Ideas of What to Eat! How to Find New Food Options

Patients often come to me saying that they need more ideas of what to eat. They want new food options. When this happens, the patient is usually in one of two scenarios: They have been eating the same thing for a while and are not good at thinking out of the box to come up with new food options, or they are fairly picky and dislike many foods for various reasons. Fortunately, both scenarios can be improved!

If you are the person who is open to trying new foods but just can't think of new ideas, read on. You will find ideas of dishes, flavors, food combinations, and cooking methods you have not thought of. If you are the person who needs new food ideas but are reluctant to try a lot of foods because you don't like theme, then read this article about overcoming picky eating.

dish of new food to eat

Three Methods to Come Up With More Ideas of What to Eat

Eating Foods at Nontraditional Times

One reason we get set in our way with what we eat is because we have a schema of what can and should be eaten at a specific meal or occasion. For example, many people see scrambled eggs as breakfast food, turkey as a Thanksgiving food, and hot chocolate as a winter food. What if we can expand what we see as acceptable to be eaten at a certain time?

If you can think of foods based on what food categories you would like rather than the occasion, you will have more options. For example, if it is in the middle of the afternoon and you need some protein for snack, open your mind to all protein foods, not just those typically eaten at snack time. Here are some examples.

  • tuna fish sandwich for snack

  • baked sweet potato for snack

  • chicken for breakfast

  • oatmeal and yogurt for dinner

  • crackers, cheese, and fruit for dinner

  • omelet for lunch

  • cereal and milk for lunch

  • fish and roasted vegetables for breakfast

  • quinoa prepared like oatmeal for breakfast

  • crackers, hummus, and vegetables for lunch

Eating Foods Not Typically Eaten Together

Sometimes the mental block about what to eat is from a limiting mindset about what foods can be eaten together. For example, if you are eating pizza, it is hard to even conceive eating a vegetable with that, and when eating cereal and milk, most people are not going to have soup on the side. In reality, the limits can be much wider! While there is never a reason to eat two foods together if you will find the combination offensive, often the resistance is just due to the untraditional nature of the combination.

Here are some examples. Some of these may seem fairly normal to you, and others may seem more atypical. Just look at them with the mindset of deciding if you are open to try that combination.

  • cereal with milk and baby carrot

  • scrambled eggs and quinoa

  • lunchmeat sandwich and an apple

  • potato chips and a string cheese

  • chicken, oatmeal, and an orange

  • hard boiled egg, steamed vegetables, and whole grain bread

  • yogurt and nuts

  • yogurt and an avocado

  • cheese and sliced tomato

  • pizza and salad

  • vegetable soup and crackers

Eating Foods You Never Had Before

Eating foods you have never tried can open your world up to so many new foods. With this category of foods, you will have to think about foods that are from other cultures that you never considered trying. We usually avoid new foods because they are unusual to us. Foods from a culture that is not your own can be fairly unusual to you. That is a good thing, because once you consider these foods as viable options, your food repertoire has suddenly widened vastly!

Trying foods from other cultures will allow you to experience a lot of newness with your food. Flavors, textures, food combinations, spices, and other new ingredients can add a lot of interest and enjoyment to your meals. Of course, I can't give you a list of foods you have never tried, but below is a list of foods many of my own patient had not tried, and they enjoyed once they did.

  • jollof rice

  • kushari

  • injera

  • dal makhani

  • korma

  • ghormeh sabzi

  • tahdig

  • mangu

  • empanadas

  • falafel

You Now Have More Ideas of What to Eat

Having more ideas of what to eat comes more from a mindset of being open to new things than from new foods being brought to your attention. If you can approach food and eating with a openness to something new, unusual, or nontraditional, you are bound to have a long list of new foods to eat.

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