1. Translate your favorites into something else
“You’re already eating more foods than you think you are, so try to deconstruct your favorite meals and see what other foods you can be eating from that,” says Zeitlin.
“For example, if you always get your burger with lettuce, tomato, and onion, then guess what, you like lettuce and tomatoes, [which] you can add into a salad, or you can grill those tomatoes as a side dish, or create a stir-fry with tomatoes, onions, and a lean cut of meat.”
2. “Retrain” your taste buds
If you’ve said “pass” on certain foods for a long time, you might be in for a surprise. “Tastes change over time, so it is important to revisit foods every so often,” recommends Zeitlin.
If you find you’re still not a fan of specific flavors, even decades later, all hope is not lost. Try cutting out many sugary/salty/fatty processed foods for a few weeks and you may be able to retrain your taste buds to recognize the natural sweetness in foods like fruit, instead of the “hypersweet” version in processed foods.
3. Take baby steps
Instead of changing everything you eat all at once, start with small changes. Instead of a side of potato chips, try a veggie-filled pasta salad instead.
Or try a different way of cooking your food: Instead of frying, try baking or grilling. “Small changes can lead to big changes but feel less overwhelming at the time,” says Zeitlin.
4. Rethink your go-to meals
If Taco Tuesdays are your jam, keep the Mexican-themed dinner but give the ingredients a facelift by using lettuce wraps in place of taco shells and swapping plain Greek yogurt for sour cream.
“A picky eater could be missing out on essential vitamins and minerals they are not getting by eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein,” says Zeitlin. “Looking for ways to sneak more vegetables into your meal is a great way to get more vitamins and minerals and expand your taste palate at the same time.”