The Power of Stories
So one thing we can dio when we're speaking to others about food choices is reframe, and again, one of the biggest ones you can do is never used that word healthy remember, ninety percent of people think that word means torture, and so we want to skip the word healthy and use the words tasty and easy this this is a recap from day one, but it's, you know, in day one, we were talking about these things in reference to ourselves, and now we're talking about it in reference to people we like, um, so again, remember the descriptive language, the seasoning with words you don't have to make food's sound boring, you know, there's so many good attributes of food that we can focus on instead of the health properties and again remember the difference between intellectual inflection points and emotional flexion points that going from should, you know, you know, a lot of our families, and this is tough, you know, a lot of our families will be, you know, we're not they're not even to the intellectua...
l inflection point like they're not in them in the place where they haven't gone from, I don't care to I should do that, they don't even they're still don't care, but even if you can get them to I should do this getting them from I should too I have to do this right now is another problem so there's going to be different stages in the evolution and you can't expect to go from I don't care tio I must eat salads every day that's just never going to happen and an emotional inflection is the only time change actually happens so let's talk a little bit more about the power of stories, so we've focused quite a bit on words you know language descriptive language amore elaborate in depth form of reforming reframing is storytelling and storytelling is incredibly powerful like right were captivated by stories. This is why we watch tv this is why we watch movies and the reason for that is it it grabs us in that emotional level instead of that rational level I can explain to you about nutrition and explain to you why to do things all day. But if I tell you one darned good story it's way more likely to change your behavior so you can use this stories to your advantage so there's and there's several different categories of stories that I rely on to help you know I teach a lot of people this is what I do for a living to write like I my job is I'm selling nutrition like I am, I am you know I learned very easy quickly on the block that if I say if I just give nutrition facts all day long people like that's awesome delete never come back right? But if I make a compelling case that it that gets people's emotions worked up and get them excited about food then I have an audience than people care than people are engaged and listening and you can do this too. So some one kind of category of story you can rely on is the start like special stories so people love eating food that is special they love it you know if if you come home from the farmers market with this like purple artichoke that is front like that this farmer rescued from his grammas farm in italy or something like that I mean that's cool I mean, you know it sounds exciting it's not just like another vegetable on the table this place this is special somebody went out of their way to preserve this particular ingredient and grow it and cultivated and and share it with the world and that means that it's it has value that just really increases the value of something and so you can use a stories like this teo engage people and never, you know, never mentioned the word healthy it's not about that it's about how brilliant and fun food can be on its own for its own sake so again, this is another way of remember the behavior graph that the way you actually get change to happen is you make you either make it easier, reduce the difficulty or make it more rewarding telling stories about special foods and special recipes and special things increases the reward the perceived reward it seems to have a lot more value. One thing that is awesome about being a foodists is that the foods we eat, the food I eat, the foods all of you now it are naturally very rich in these attributes right we are we're focused on delicious seasonal food we're focused on real food and this stuff is naturally very special it's naturally way more special than the generic industrial stuff at the grocery store so if you could but like you can frame it as you know, expensive and hard to get or you can frame it as really valuable and totally worth it worth the trip worth of money you know worth e getting up saturday with a hangover and dragging yourself to the farmer's market or whatever it is um so real food is so it's it's not as hard as it sounds to come up with stories like this when you're dealing with such special food and so one thing to do now that we have all these tactics is you can put yourself in your mind in the mind of your family and and uh in their emotional mind and think about what kind of stories would resonate with them so different people responded different things so there are certain families that already sort like my parents were always kind of been organics they were hippies and so it's not that hard for me to sell my dad on a farmer's market whereas you know some other families might have completely different value set you know, maybe if you're from the south maybe you have, you know, a special recipe from like grandma's grits who has something about their grids somebody was telling me about their grades and uh and I was the elisa um but you know, she was but you know, maybe there's a special recipe and that's going to appeal in a different way, but either way you're creating a special story around food that appeals to that particular person, so you have to know your audience it's really important there are more categories of stories so another category of story this one is incredibly powerful, even more powerful. I think success stories all right, people who have overcome something because, you know, like we spoke about with a lot of the reasons people give for why they don't try harder to eat healthier because a lot of people think it's too late that I can't do it that there's no way for me and success stories can help a new do that limiting belief it can help show that there actually is a way someone like me was able to do this maybe I can do it to really powerful so what this does if you think about that behavior graph again is this decreases the perceived difficulty right? It seems impossible and suddenly it seems doable really, really powerful right? Um this is one of the reasons by the way that like quack websites are like covered in testimonials like fake health advice and stuff it's always I lost forty pounds in ten minutes because it's really a powerful emotional thing for people you really get to that emotional inflection point when you think oh gosh if that works for them it could work for me I want to try it makes people want to try and one thing I want tio emphasize as this doesn't have to be about weight loss so, uh for instance, um like for instance, a lot of like one of the store's success stories I told you guys over the course of this course is that I used to not know how to cook at all right? I used to be terrible I burnt water I didn't learn to start cooking until he's twenty five I didn't even eat real food until I was twenty five and then I told you the story about how I learned to cook you know, I started shopping at the farmer's market I started with salads, and I have worked my upto worked my way up to using the actual stove in the oven, and that is a form of success story, you know, somebody says cooking sounds hard, I can't cook, I was like, well, I was there I was, that person who thought that was sort of not that interesting to me, and I was able to overcome that. And now it's great it's, one of the best things in my life, and so sudden, somebody who relates told me and here's, a success story can really question whether or not they can do something they previously thought they couldn't d'oh another one is picky eating, and we're going to be going into a lot more depth about this, but one of the feet, the stories that I feature in my book is a story about a picky eater of a woman who absolutely hated all vegetables and even some fruit should anyone really like fruit, and it was a story about how she was able to overcome that, and we're going to actually hear a story about vic eating very shortly. But that is an incredibly powerful story from other picky eaters to hear, because most picky eaters, when I think about themselves and their eating preferences, they think it's genetic. You know, they think they're destined to be this way that's just how they are, you know, the fixed mindset and the reality is and we'll get more into this that's not true, you know, the gate and can be overcome and to hear a success story of somebody who's successfully overcome that is incredibly powerful about there's some picky eaters online I'd like to hear from you guys were going to but we're gonna have to be talking a lot about that. All right? So I'm just going to do a quick intro too picky eating so first of all, the myth is that pig eating is genetic there is certainly a genetic component to different taste buds and whatnot, but the number one prediction of what you're comfortable eating is what you grew up eating. So what that tells us is that picky here that your comfort level is experience based, not necessarily genetic what's great about that is that means you can change it with experiences makes sense genetics or something you can't change experience. Is there something you can change but you can adopts to, um and let me slimming explain a little bit about what going on when somebody has a new verse food reaction and I'm not talking about allergies that special but like when somebody is eat the food for the first time is like yeah, that's gross what what they're actually saying and what they're actually telling you is that is really really foreign to me I haven't had that experience before it makes me, quite frankly a little bit uncomfortable and then our brains interpret discomfort as dislike it's hard to do new things and food is one of those things that's so personal that it's and it could be a very intense feeling of dislike does that make sense so it's sort of a confusion that our brain makes it's like well if I don't like it once will never like it but that's not that's not necessarily true as you become mohr exposed to it the discomfort goes away because you get more used to it and then suddenly you can actually start tasting the food and realizing that it might not be as bad as you had originally assumed and it's well documented that exposure to new food to new foods actually increases familiarity and the acceptance that's really powerful I've I've personally overcome a lot of food dislikes I hated gosh what I start cilantro spinach brussels sprouts beets, eggplant, tomatoes, asparagus sorry to say that I mean mainly because the ones I ate growing up were disgusting they were frozen or just not prepared well under salted, overcooked etcetera but I learned to get over all those things and it's great now I have a much better time at restaurants and my my my favorite line and I give all the time for this is that uh liking things is a lot more fun than not liking things and it's funny it sounds silly and sort of self evident but you try to talk a picky eater and a liking something in there right now not interested I don't want to like that liking stuff sucks I'm not even kidding that's the attitude but I disagree something to do with their time I'm thinking about my neck is when they were very, very young they actually had an incredibly developed tastes they in fact for their fifth birthday they wanted to go to a sushi restaurant it's bizarre but when they got older and they started going to school and all their friends would need vegetable certainly they they started becoming picky eaters where they haven't been before yeah, absolutely I did that a little bit as a kid I got a friend that I really thought she was cool and I wanted to be like her and she didn't like peanut butter, so I told my mom I couldn't like peanut butter anymore, but I grew out of that so I'm just going to go through this really quick, so overcoming picky eating the number one thing is exposure just repeated exposure to the rejected food and it needs to be about ten times ten or ten to twelve times but you don't have to just suffer every time try it in different recipes, different preparations even in different environments I read a story about a child who learned to like a new food because he was in a different country and it was presented in a completely different way that actually is how I learned like cilantro I really didn't like cilantro in mexican food going up which is what I mainly eight in southern california but once I had vietnamese food and there's a lot of cilantro in that it was delicious and was like, oh ok and then suddenly I went back to mexican food it was fine, but it sort of took a new context for me to really accept it often with picky eaters its texture not flavor that's the issue and uh one thing at one tip I've gotten from a lot of people who've been able to overcome texture aversions to food is often it's an association like they'll say this I don't like tomatoes because they're like snot or I don't like, you know like grows like who would want to it's not of course you're not gonna like a tomato, but if you could associate it with something different that you don't have such a gross association with it can help so one person told me they were able to get over their sushi aversion because I always thought it tasted like a dead tongue and then they switched it so actually it's kind of like a lunch meat and once it was a notable thing, it was fine literally that's all it took so that's one thing you can do is create a new dead tongue that's really quite funny another thing I strongly recommend is trying a new food at a nice restaurant because a really good chef can do magical things that maybe your mom can't do at home and when all else fails ad shoes or bacon um I I actually interviewed minute I was one of those kids that when I was five I was eating it sushi restaurant as well, and I asked my dad what his secret was to get me and my brothers to be such adventurous eaters and this is a quote from my book he was like if I'd met melted cheese on it, you guys would have eaten shoe leather, which is probably true especially we're expelling kids but there's nothing wrong with that there's nothing wrong with combining a taste you're not so keen on with one that you know you really love if it's going to help you accept it. All right, so now I'm really excited tohave today's guest stephanie luciano which stephanie please correct me if I'm saying your name wrong but she has an amazing story she was a former picky eater and then actually overcame it to the point where she was able to go into the food industry and now she has like she's like a food writer food person so stephanie thank you and welcome thank you thanks for having me how do you say your last name? Lucy lucy janovic thank you so much for joining us I cannot wait to hear your story well ok, so I was a very picky eater until I was twenty seven uh really no vegetables no fish us like you grew up eating frozen vegetables that are prepared very well but when I was twenty seven I fell in love and then I fell in love with was adventurous eater any day everything and I was very embarrassed at how immature I was to still be disliking so many foods that zoo courageous positive I think that's really interesting so there's actually you know so I I often get the sense from, uh you know, picky eaters there's a sort of a stubbornness around it, yet you're saying that there seems to be a you're aware of that and it's a little bit embarrassing from your perspective as well. It's completely embarrassing I don't stubbornness may be applied to kids who who don't have the societal pressures yet of knowing what they should you know, if they know what they should be, they really don't care my five year old doesn't care um so starkness doesn't enter into it unless it's the picky eater is like no, I I really don't like this and I'm going to stick to because it's gonna make me throw up because it can for some people it can be that much of a diversion um so it's not stubbornness and actually for picky eaters especially adult picky eaters as I was for a while uh it's uh it's difficult it's difficult to be in a social situation if you don't know that you're going to like the food at the party or the restaurant it's scare you don't really have people to know about it, so it is shameful, lonely and scary. Yeah, so you you were embarrassed by this and then and then and then you met a man who had the opposite value systems. Yeah, and I didn't want him to know how little I ate. I pretended lots of allergies like I was allergic to red peppers and, you know, so on and so forth that he was like you, I'm married to him now, but he's like I never really believed that you could be allergic to red peppers and just didn't say anything but because he was kind and considerate and understanding I slowly became more adventurous with foods that he would order things in a wreck strong were living in boston fish or some sort of green thing that I would never order a full plate of, and I would have a buddy just a fight that's all I didn't feel threatened by the plate sitting in front of me that I was going to send back to the restaurant when eaten and fear that the chefs were going to make fun of me. And once I had success with these few things like, oh that's, not a fishy fish, that fish in the atlantic is better than the fish I grew up with out of the lakes in minnesota, I want to try more and more things, and I started to build on this to discover, well, if if that's not so bad, then this might be good and this might be good, and it happened with vegetables that happened with fish. It happened with other meats that I hadn't really been interested in trying it got to the point where I was so into food. I went to culinary school and then moved up to the bay area where I've worked on wage number cookbooks. I have worked on a shock when cooking show, and I've been a food writer for the past ten so ten or so years, and I wrote a book all about what it's like to be a picky eater and how to come out of it. It's so great one thing you said that's really interesting to me is it sounds like a big part of the your acceptance was just taking some of the pressure off with knowing that you only had to have one bite as deposed as opposed to the embarrassing situation of an entire plate of food you couldn't eat yeah, exactly um I later would put the pressure on myself by cooking more things so that I would be faced with that plate of things, but I mean I was the one cooking and I had control cooking it, feeling it choose again t mystified it, but yes that's it's little tiny steps and it's not having toe like all the vegetables all of a sudden it's starting with one thing and it doesn't even have to be that thing straight as you were mentioning earlier, I still don't like a big bowl of greens that have been sauteed with garlic, but I like a bowl of green sauteed in garlic that I'm it's with pasta because I break up the texture that I don't find particularly pleasing and I break up the flavor and in that sense I like it with the pasta, so I like it but I'm not going to necessarily eat it just straight that's great that's such a great like a step in the right direction but it's like the point, isn't it teo stomach a big pile of greens. The point is to just eat a balanced diet, right? Exactly. Yeah. So, do you have what's your advice for for somebody who's? Like watching this right now and saying, oh, my gosh, I'm so picky. I can't imagine being going to culinary school way to go to culinary school. I mean, that was something I did because I wanted to work in food and I wanted sort of the, you know, the stamp of approval from an industry that said, I knew what I was talking about. Um, you start small and you start cooking for yourself and or you go to restaurants, as you mentioned earlier don't accept that there's only one way to cut things if you've only had brussels front steamed and decided I don't like brussels sprouts ever well, steamed is no way to have them. You have to respect the food, you know. So you have to find ways that or learn about the ways that are the foods should be prepared, like brussels sprouts should be roast and it should be stopped. They might opinion should never be steam brings out the worst in that you want to bring out the best in food, so you start with one thing. And you figure out how the best way to repair it talk to your friends who like to cook, they're going to tell you because people who like to cook have lots of opinions about how to be prepared and in this area, and you'll find lots of people who will just tell you that even if you're a farmer's market, you know, you don't have to ask him to tell you how you prepare it. So start with something small and be gentle with yourself and be patient because it can and will take a while. But once you have one or two successes, you just become braver about trying more things. So there's there's, I have two questions based on what you just said. Um, the first is how long you know, if you're talking about one new food, how long does it typically take you to learn to integrate that, like, and is it like you start slow and you build? Or do you just sort of make a decision? Okay? And now I'm gonna like brussels sprouts and you attack it. Or how do you approach that? How long does it take? Well, hardly for me, it could take different forms, so when I moved out to the bay area, even though I had been a foodie, in my opinion and got a culinary school, I still don't like brussels sprouts, but I was seeing them at the farmer's market, and they were sort of, like, filtering down into my consciousness, and I was starting to maybe walked the food that I didn't like, but I wanted to know, how should I eat this? And so I looked up some recipes because I know one stay away from steamed, and I looked up trusted sources like alice waters is vegetable book, and I found out how to saute them or how to roast them, and that was all it took for me to, like brussels sprouts, and then I even like that for a long time and had no other way. Um, well, I eventually I also branched out and decided I could accept him other ways if I really had to s o, even though I don't recommend that they've esteemed, if I were faced with them now, I'd be able to beat them. They wouldn't share with me would make me guy, you know, wouldn't make me feel sick or anything like that, so kennedy really quick, you know, just finding that one recipe or talking to people or having challenge your friends who are the foodies I want you to make me like this food prepared for me I've done this for friends it's fun it's actually find to try and convert people to food that they hate it how do you convert friends well they have to want to be converted so you know they have teo for me the impetus was you know love and changing I was dating this guy and I didn't want to know you know how I was with food but you first of all you have to have the desire and you have to have a strong reason for why wanted change it's really really hard to change I think a lot of thinking leaders especially thinking adults feel it's too hard or I'll never change and some are comfortable there just like I'm a picky eater I'm ok with that and a great I mean when I did the research for my book the psychologist said it's really not a problem until it starts to impact your health and your social life and that's when picky eaters usually decided that they want to stop living like this and they want their lives to be easier and more fun so you have to have the impetus but my woman who dies my hair she was telling what I was talking about my book she was telling the oh I'm such a picky eater these of things I came she got all sort of head of they just talking about lettuce or other green things and so I said, you know, if you want to come over a safe place to my kitchen I will try and get you know like the things you don't like a few things and there's no pressure to fold thing just try a buying and if you don't want to try a bite that soaking tio so she and her twin came over and I made her a salad with my own vinaigrette and I made her sauteed greens with taro and not only did she have a bite, she cleaned her plait she asked for rex defeat so it's that's how picky eaters can be converted but again they have to want to and you don't put pressure on them like that I just try I know I know you like it, you know the whole I'm a mother, I do this but the whole like come on just one by just one right now they have to want tio and you can't shame them and you shouldn't shame them into it and it's also not a choice that's that's one of the biggest uh miss numbers about picky eating can he does don't choose to be picky they're not just being there and being like I don't like this because they want to be that way it's not fine it's not a great way to live so doing it to piss people off either write so many great points there so we've been talking a lot about that reaching an emotional inflection point and how that's when change really happens and it sounds like you were there and that's really what it takes to get somebody to be willing to even try the other thing I wanted to ask you about is you mentioned you get braver so you know can you tell that walk us through that how like this first time you realize that you could like something and how important that first experiences well the first time I realized that I could like a vegetable that I didn't think I liked was a cooked pumpkin and an afghani restaurants in cambridge, massachusetts and I was out to dinner with my fiancee's family and once again in a situation where the pressure was on not to expose how picky I wass and they were into all the vegetable dishes you know I would have been into all the meat dishes but they are a lot of vegetable dishes and it was shared around and so I tried this cooked pumpkin in the yogurt sauce which had some like meat drippings across it and it was so amazing and it was it was just so good and because of that because of the extreme difference between hating of food t going from one side of hating to the complete other side of loving was transformative and it made me want to try more things to figure out what else have I been missing out on or what else can I stop avoid it because it's actually they're actually good things out there that I'm going to like so it was huge and you know I say this in my book but if I weren't that picky eater that I had been for twenty seven years I wouldn't be the food person I am today I wouldn't love food as much as they do today because it is the direct inverse of how I was until I was twenty seven it's an extreme difference and I just love it as much as I once he did it it's interesting I actually feel the same way I feel like the reason I'm so passionate about food now is because I denied myself food as a you know you know dieter and I call myself a chronic dieter for so long that when I discovered that food was amazing it became my career because I just felt like everybody need to know this but I don't exactly know along would have been different yeah, I know you want everyone to know what you want to shout it from the rooftops you want to be like no don't you understand? I hated that food to I really did and now I don't and maybe you can too and I say maybe because you know it's not it's not always going to be the same experience and it is difficult work and I mean, as you said earlier, food is incredibly intimate you're taking into your body it could possibly make you sick there's a lot of tension at a dinner table when there's a picky you know, there's a lot of fight or flight that's going on with their stress levels rising as they're faced with things they don't like and all of that is not good for digestion and connect nauseous that can make you I feel like a rock in your stomach and all those things worked against being able to accept food in the way that you could accept food absolutely do we have any questions from online or anybody have some really good comments of people? The it seems to be the biggest problem they're dealing with our children picky eaters were saying this is before you came on luciano that you know is this peer pressure children actually don't have an aversion to foods until one of their friends says, well, you know, don't eat that mean most most kids will eat french fries until they discover the potatoes a vegetable? Well so with kids, which is the most frequent question I get when I've given my book talks is that it is developmentally appropriate and incredibly normal for kids to be picky eaters starting as young as fifteen months, they learn it's all about learning how to say no and learning what they can control. And the earliest thing is like kids learning to push away the food s o you know, do it say they don't like it that's all normal intel it the pediatrician starts to get worried that their development is being affected. It's not something that parents should really worry about it's it's difficult to tell parents that cause I am a parent and telling a parent not to worry about something which makes their kids seem abnormal is impossible, but it is extremely normal and there's a huge age range where if you were to go to a feeding clinic where extreme cases go for food acceptance issues, I interviewed people at the children's hospital down here, stanford for my book they don't even see you toddlers, because toddlers, you're doing everything this anti what the toddler feels that they are supposed to do, and that is having their own boundaries and feeling safe with food. Now parents control the food, I control the food in my house, I say whatever bully eats, which means I get to eat what I want, nobody else gets to eat what they want necessarily I mean, yes, ok, I'll ask my family what you want me to make, but most the time I'm the one deciding the many, I would hate that personally, I mean, I would like someone to cook for me on a regular basis, but not being able to choose what you like or choose what you want is is difficult and for kids, one thing that we learn is parents is that kids thrive and need consistency, their caregivers, their schooling, their sleep schedules, all of that, they thrive on that consistency, they feel safe in it. Why is it so shocking to us that they feel safer with food? That is consistent? I like my pasta, I'm like my particular sandwich. I don't want to try things new because I may not like this and I know where I stand with this food that's very normal for them to feel safe, especially if there's changes going on that there always are developmentally if they're going to kidnap garden or I just knew things that happened with kids age zero to five it's constantly happening in their heads and bodies. Um, this is normal and the whole life kids gravitating towards carbs. One of the scientists I interview from monell said something that I love and all parents would love this. That the whole thing about kids loving the potatoes the cost of the bread and that's all they eat and it's oh it's all the bland food it's all the white why isn't my kid eating sushi? Why isn't my kid eating flog rock well kids our bodies are growing so fast at certain ages that fruit the life usually because it's sugar and the body knows it sugar so it knows its energy vegetables are quickly digested carbohydrates are that sort of slow burn of energy so kids are going to their body is actually telling them this is what you need to grow so the scientists who studies this said this is very normal this is why kids like the carbohydrate diet well that is so fascinating at stephanie thank you so much for your insight and definitely check out stephanie's book suffering succotash I think that's such a clever name that was brilliant and thanks for joining us. Thanks for having me talk about a success story, right? I mean she went a full one eighty on on that and um and you can you can you is anybody in the audience picky or have overcome pig eating? Jane I grew up eating very few food groups and I still have an aversion to fish and I've tried you know, on the premise that salmon is so good for you and there's so many things that your body needs in salmon I've tried it, I can't even tell you how many times cooked in in many different ways, and I still don't but, you know, growing up eating peanut butter sandwiches and chicken little soup um, I my ex husband was a chef, so as soon as we started dating, I began to broaden my horizons and food and and found that I really like most foods, but good, no fish and that's ok, atleast you tried, but what do you think about, like, a story like stephanie's? Is that it's like, inspirational? I think it is because, you know, e guess it was for me, it was a gradual thing, it was just being exposed to more things and having someone encouraged me to try more things, but I don't think I have achieved the level that stephany has. Yeah, it's pretty it's pretty clear, inspirational. I think I know some severely picky eaters, and I know it as an adult that must be so difficult, you know, just like I have talked to people just don't eat onions don't like onions, it's really hard to go to a restaurant and not eight onions. Um, so you never you didn't know that my dad didn't them for whatever reason, I just didn't like them, but it was very, very hard. It's. Very difficult. I, personally, I don't eat potato. I don't drink milk, but that's. I don't think of myself as being picky there's, just two things they don't like, and I don't think that's damaging to my diet, like eat a lot of younger ty to eat a lot of trees. It's, the texture of build. Absolutely, yeah, that's, a great distinction, it's like it, while it is more funnel like things that I do encourage a very diet, if it's not really affecting your health, it's, not nothing to necessarily stress out about it.