Why Try 13 Times? Learning to Like Healthy Food

Why Try 13 Times? Learning to Like Healthy Food

I used to be a hater—especially when it came to certain foods. But one day in nursing school, I overheard a conversation between my nutrition professor and a fellow student. Dr. Nizielski claimed that you could acquire a taste for any food—no matter how much you hated it—as long as you tried it thirteen times. He also insisted that there was scientific research to prove it.

Of course when I heard this dubious newsflash I immediately thought of green peppers, my dietary enemy number one. Not being one to shy away from a challenge, I set out to confront my ghastly green nemesis head-on and to disprove Dr. Nizielski’s theory in the process.

In what I like to refer to as the “Great Green Pepper War of 2003,” I systematically scheduled a series of 13 battles between my opinionated taste buds and the repugnant green food item. The months-long campaign was waged on multiple battlefields: beds of lettuce, pools of spaghetti sauce, and slices of pizza.

The initial skirmishes were almost inconsequential—nibbles of crunchy green yuck almost too brief to count. But count them I did, painfully advancing toward the magic number 13.

As the war raged on and the battles intensified, I began to notice a change. I was beginning to develop a tolerance toward my foul-tasting foe! I no longer gagged on the stray tidbit of diced pepper in a green salad or the occasional veggie strip in my chicken fajitas. My resolve was weakening. Was it possible that my professor was right?

I reminded myself that this was war and re-gathered forces. Battle number twelve would be a culinary blitzkrieg previously unimaginable in the McArthur household: stuffed peppers. The preparation was uneventful. I craftily halved and eviscerated the vile vegetation, liberating fumes that only months before would have sent my stomach packing for higher ground. No reaction. This was an ominous sign.

I stuffed the herbaceous enemy and forced them into a piping hot oven—all the while imaging them suffering in the sweltering domestic torture chamber! But strangely enough, the peppers didn’t seem to be suffering. Instead, they perfumed the air with a rather pleasant, appetite-inspiring aroma.

I was afraid.

I won’t go into the gory details of my gustatory Waterloo, but suffice it to say that the 13th tasting was deemed unnecessary. I had waived the white flag before a mass of neatly arranged rows of glistening veggie goodness. I had become a green pepper turn-coat, powerless against the cheese-topped pièce de résistance.

Today, I no longer harbor hostile feelings toward anything edible. I enjoy numerous foods that I’d previously shunned—among them bananas, walnuts, and avocado—all having been subjected to the “thirteen times” test. And I pass along this valuable life lesson to anyone who will listen: Make peace, not war. Don’t hate a food unless you’ve given yourself ample opportunities (13, in fact) to fall in love with it.



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