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On Leaving Your Comfort Zone

May 2, 2012

A colleague of mine recently told me she eats two bananas a day – no other fruits, just bananas. She has high blood pressure, and she’s rightly worried about her potassium-to-sodium ratio, so she figures she’s in the clear if she eats a couple of bananas each and every day. Never mind that there are lots of other fruits and vegetables with higher potassium content.

I suggested she might want to diversify her daily selection of potassium sources – different types of foods, varied colors. “Eat the rainbow,” as the saying goes, for the best health. Orange, blue, red, yellow, green, purple – the colors offer varied nutrients, all of which are beneficial to health.

“I bought some oranges,” she admitted. “But they didn’t taste good.” And so, she stopped there. I had to admit that bananas are, in fact, pretty reliable taste-wise – as long as they’re ripe, you always know what you’re getting when you slide down that peel.

The exchange with my colleague started me remembering my family’s diet when I was growing up. It had a high “reliability” quotient, too. Fruits were mostly bananas, oranges and apples, although we did enjoy greater variety in the summer. Vegetables were more static – mostly peas, potatoes, carrots and corn, often masked with cream sauces. Salads were iceberg lettuce with tomatoes. I didn’t taste eggplant or lentils until I was an adult, and strawberries came frozen in little tins, to be thawed and eaten on shortcake with Cool Whip. Butternut squash? Red cabbage? Blackberries? They never touched my lips until I decided to seek them out and give them their fair shot.

(I’m not dissing my mother. She made homemade meals every single day and did her best with the nutrition information that was out there in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when I grew up. She also was a superb baker, but we won’t go into sugar here…)

I’m going to suggest that you go outside your comfort zone today and eat a fruit or vegetable that is either unfamiliar to you or that you rarely choose. Maybe you tried Swiss chard years ago and didn’t care for how it was prepared so you gave up. Could you try again? Or maybe you just never think to eat asparagus – it’s in season now and delicious steamed with a drizzle of olive oil. You might also try a spice you don’t use much, like turmeric or coriander.

Maybe you’ll realize that you don’t like the food or spice you try, or maybe you’ll wonder what took you so long to come around to it. Experiment. There’s a rainbow of nutrients out there.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Debra permalink
    May 13, 2012 5:18 pm

    I have been enjoying your blogs. Shannon and I watched the documentary King Corn recently. It was funny, informative, and disturbing. We may be in Pittsburgh in a few weeks. It would be fun to see you and Katie.

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