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MacAulay and Co. - Psychology of Food

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Simone Byrne Simone Byrne | 15:56 UK time, Friday, 3 September 2010

Following her conversation with Fred MacAulay on Tuesday's edition of MacAulay & Co, Dr Christy Fergusson 'The Food Psychologist' shares her handy tips on overcoming psychological barriers to re-educating your palate.

Dr Christy Fergusson

Dr Christy Fergusson

Mushrooms, celery, macaroni, offal....what food is it that you simply cannot stand?

Very often the foods we avoid are the ones we have avoided since we were young. As children our palates may have struggled with strong flavours and we would therefore have opted for blander foods. But how many of us still base our food choices on these earlier preferences?

Our perception of certain foods can also be influenced by the fact that we as humans have a natural aversion to things that differ from our expectations. This is why so many of us avoid foods, which we perceive to have strange textures. For example, how many of you can't stand mushrooms or okra, because of how they feel in your mouth?

No one likes to be thought of as a picky eater, but most of us have foods that we would rather live without. However, maybe its time to give some of them a second chance. here are 8 easy steps to re-educating your palate.

Step 1: Firstly, decide on which food that you are currently avoiding, that you feel you would benefit from.

Step 2: Try new ways of cooking and preparing a food you dislike. If you were force fed overcooked boiled vegetables as a child then try stir-frying or roasting them instead.

Step 3: Always select the freshest produce, as this will taste better than canned, frozen or low quality versions.

Step 4: Commit to continuing to try the new food until you find a way to prepare and enjoy it.

Step 5: Find some recipes online, or invest in a good cookbook to inspire you and give you new ways to prepare and present the food.

Step 6: Pair it with something your love. If you hate mushrooms but love spaghetti bolognaise then chop the mushrooms finely and add small quantities to the sauce.

Step 7: Take it slowly. For example, if you are trying to switch from white pasta to brown, the answer is not to force feed yourself a big bowl of brown penne. Start by doing half white and half brown and slowly reduce the quantity, until your taste buds adjust.

Step 8: Be adventurous at restaurants. Eating out is a great opportunity to try the food in a new way.

Even if a certain food never makes it to your favourite list, at least you may be able to enjoy it on occasion. The key word here is to 'enjoy.' Eating foods because they are healthy is one thing, but food is there to be enjoyed and the best reason to eat certain foods is because you absolutely love them.

Catch up on all the star guests and interviews featured on this week's MacAulay and Co. and listen live, Monday to Friday 1005-1130 on BBC Radio Scotland.


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