While it’s common for kids to throw a fit over the idea of eating anything but fries or hot dogs, some people never grow out of being a picky eater. In fact, a survey of more than 1,300 adults showed that 18 percent of participants qualified as picky eaters. By being fussy over the food that’s on your plate, rather than exploring different ingredients and flavors, you might be missing out some health benefits that make you healthier and stronger. Here’s what you’re missing out on as a picky eater, and how to break out of your shell.
Embracing the exotic and ditching your picky-eater personality has immediate payoffs: Those who get excited about eating all kinds of foods tend to have diets that are richer in vitamins and minerals, science shows. In one study, people who were open to trying new foods consumed more protein, healthy fats, and magnesium than people who weren’t. Adventurous women also tend to eat 50 percent more vegetables, according to research from Finland.
To branch out in new food directions, order the tasting menus at restaurants, or buy something new to try every time you grocery shop.
People who eat a wide variety of foods are less likely to suffer from damaging inflammation, and they also have better levels of cholesterol and omega-3s and a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease, compared with those who are less willing to try new dishes and ingredients, a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found.
One possible explanation: Food lovers are more likely to eat fish and get a boost from its beneficial fatty acids, the researchers say. Picky eaters, take that as a sign to swap your weeknight chicken for salmon.