I think it's time I shared about something I've been struggling with for a long time; I'm a very picky eater. I've probably talked about this a little bit in here, but not in any real detail.
As a kid, sometimes my selectiveness got to a point where I would only eat certain brands of certain food items (the main example I remember is that when it came to pasta sauce, I would ONLY have Ragu, and ONLY the Traditional kind). Even if I liked two kinds of foods separately, I often wouldn't like the idea of eating them together as one food item, or even as part of the same meal. If I ordered a burger and it came with the vegetables on top, I would get upset because I could no longer eat it because it would still taste
like the veggies (especially with things like pickles or onions). I also had a gag reflex problem when it came to trying new things.
Luckily I've gotten a bit better over the years. I'm no longer restricted by brand names (I may have brand preferences, but I'm still open to trying other ones). I'm more flexible about trying foods together instead of separately. And as for the veggies on burgers, I just calmly move the veggies to the side and will still eat the burger even if the veggies do leave a taste sometimes (the exception being the burgers that have the onions cooked inside
, ick). Best of all, I don't get the gag reflex anymore.
But there's still a lot of things about my eating habits that drive people around me nuts. For example, the two food groups I'm pickiest about are meat and vegetables which, unfortunately for me, make up the majority of food.
Specifically, I've noticed that the majority of meat-based dishes involve chicken, pork, or seafood. I only eat beef, turkey, and bison, and sometimes pepperoni on pizza. I don't have any interest in trying any other meats because I would rather be vegetarian than be directly responsible for more types of animals being made into food. I especially have no interest in seafood, because it often involves being even more
directly responsible for the animals in question since the seafood is usually still alive until you buy it. Also I never liked the smell of seafood, but that's just trivial. As for meat substitutes, I like soy just fine, but unfortunately after being diagnosed with PCOS and hypothyroidism, my doctors recommended that I stop eating it.
People often offensively claim I'm a hypocrite for eating some kinds of meats, but not all of them. "What's the difference?" they'll ask, even after I explain the above paragraph to them. I can't even count how many times, after explaining that I absolutely refuse
to eat any meats besides the ones I eat already, the person I'm speaking to will, without missing a beat, ask me about eating chicken or pork or fish anyway.
Conversely, someone I know re-tweeted something on Twitter about how animal activists who eat meat are also hypocrites and might as well not do anything to help animals (granted this view was espoused by PETA, who are extremists and are going about animal activism all wrong, but I still took offense). The problem is, I can't be vegetarian either because, along with the soy thing I mentioned, I don't like any vegetables. I like tomato-based things such as ketchup and pasta sauce, but not tomatoes. I like cornbread and tortilla chips but not corn (and if it's the kind of cornbread with corn chunks in it, forget it). I like carrot cake and carrot muffins but not carrots. Some of my friends tell me that unless it's whole veggies, it "doesn't count" as vegetable servings, which of course is total bull and doesn't help things at all.
Some of you are probably wondering at this point "So Becki, what do
you eat?". Well, I like pretty much all desserts, most breads, most cheese (not interested in cheez whiz, or blue cheese b/c I'm still a bit psyched out by the mold thing, and American cheese is too gooey), yogurt, pasta (with tomato sauce only, and maybe some parmesan cheese on top if it's available), pizza (cheese or pepperoni), burgers, pretzels, potatoes (as well as potato chips and french fries, but strangely enough I'm not a fan of sweet potatoes, unless they're fries or potato chips), tortilla chips, cereal, granola, nuts (except Brazil nuts), bagels, PB+J, grilled cheese sandwiches, cheesesteak, steak (though I don't like when it's too chewy, and I still strongly prefer burgers in most cases), brisket, apples, grapes, smoothies, banana bread, pancakes, french toast, crackers, raisins, popcorn, and maybe a few other things. Not too bad variety-wise all things considered (there are adult picky eaters who are even more limited in what they can eat), but probably not the healthiest diet either.
This would be mostly acceptable if I never left the United States, but I'm also a frequent traveler. In other countries, meat and veggies are even more
prominent aspects of the cuisine. I'm a bit worried about my upcoming week-long trip to Spain because of this (according to some research I've been doing, the majority of their cuisine is seafood-based). As much as I love Japan, I've had to go out of my way to find American restaurants both times I went there because Japanese cuisine is the antithesis of what I'm able to eat.
And let's not even get started on how this affects my social life. Again, most of the people I've explained my diet to have reacted rather negatively, and often don't seem to understand where I'm coming from. Many of them act like it's a phase I'll just grow out of, even though I've tried, mostly unsuccessfully, for years
to be more flexible about food.
While reading comments in a forum post
on the subject of adult picky eating, I noticed one user mentioned they felt negative comments about such a diet were counter-productive and hurtful, but still admitted she could never be in a close relationship with someone who had that kind of issue with food. Other comments were less accepting; one user likened picky eating to not having any manners.
This summer, I plan to make a conscious effort to improve my eating habits so I can be less picky and more open to trying new things. There's certain things I still intend to draw the line at (like the meats), but when it comes to other foods that can help expand my options, both in terms of nutrients and places I'm able to eat at, I'd really like to be able to find a way to make those foods enjoyable instead of panic-inducing. One thing I think might be helpful to me as a first step is the Sneaky Chef cookbook, since it involves adding veggies to food in a way where I won't actually see them in the food.
Also, the issue of picky eating in adults is being more widely discussed
in the public sphere, and is even officially being recognized as a disorder
. I'm hoping that by raising awareness of the issue, it will also make people more accepting of those who have to deal with picky eating habits, and that maybe we can find a solution.