I don’t really like to talk about it but I’ve struggled with picky eating since I was a little kid. I don’t eat fruits or vegetables, I’ve never had a hamburger or hot dog (even though my father offered me hundreds of dollars growing up), I’m disgusted by lettuce and onions, and I don’t like certain foods on my plate or touching the food I will end up eating. I’m now 23 years old and I still struggle with it every day.
It’s an interesting thing to experience because anyone who finds out thinks they can give you the advice or help that will finally change you when really it’s so much more than that. It’s a psychological issue that isn’t that easy to get over. What’s worse is some people will make fun of you and even make mean comments because they don’t understand why you are the way that you are. I didn’t choose to be this way but I can tell you I would do anything at this point to be able to eat those foods that make me cringe. I even bought hypnosis downloads that are supposed to help people like me. I got a good deal I couldn’t pass up and I can’t tell you for sure if it’s working but I have had less anxiety trying new foods. Honestly you can say what you want but that’s an improvement in my book.
Going out to eat with friends, co-workers, even family is a stressful event for people like me. If I’ve never been to a restaurant before I stress over what I’m going to be able to eat that will be a “safe” meal. Thanks to the internet going places has gotten easier because I can screen the menu before we get in the car. But sometimes if I don’t have enough time to screen the menu beforehand I have to try and discreetly look up the menu in the hopes that I can find something that will be “Ariel proof.” I generally order off the kids menu and get made fun of or I order an appetizer and get asked if that’s all I’m going to eat. There’s no real way to look normal when you’re an adult picky eater.
Just like with any other mental health issue in America, people tend to not be understanding of why you have this problem. I’m lucky that I have a few people who understand and don’t judge me but more times than not I have people who act like my problem isn’t really a problem. I’ve been told it’s not that hard to try new foods, that I should just get over it, and even that somehow my issue is a joke that shouldn’t be taken seriously. Those are the hardest comments to hear because not only do they lack compassion, they literally make you feel like the majority of people will never even try to step into your shoes and understand your mentality.
Slowly but surely I’ve added things like baked zucchini and tomato soup onto my acceptable food list. I’m a huge fan of Pinterest because I scroll through pages and pages to find things that I would be willing to make and (hopefully) try. I’m also a big supporter of therapy and will start to go to a local doctor in my area to see if I can get to the root of the problem. Also thanks to the Internet I found out that I’m not the only one with this issue.
If you ever meet someone like me who says they’re picky with food, remember that compassion is key. Foods that might be a no brainer for you to eat might be a hurdle a picky eater has to get over. For me trying a new food and not hating it is an accomplishment, and “not hating it” is usually the sentiment I give to new food that I’m okay with. If you ever interact with a picky eater the most important thing I can say is: It is that hard to try new things and we can’t just get over it. Maybe one day I’ll love eating fruits, vegetables, and possibly even salads (Even though there’s no good story that starts with eating a salad). But until then I’ll slowly start to find what foods I don’t hate and personally I’m perfectly okay with that.