It’s a food thing. You know how everyone talks about food all the time? When people eat out, food is a major topic. For picky eaters, this is really piling on the pain. Now, if you are a picky eater, or you have a loved one who has this minor problem, here are 10 things people commonly think about picky eaters. It is time to give them a chance to explain a few things.
“I’m a really picky eater.” — Emma Roberts
1. They are just seeking attention
Many people are convinced that picky eaters are just trying to get more attention. The reality is quite different, as most picky eaters would rather curl up and die rather than to have to go through agonizing menu choices.
2. They are just like children
You know how we always lump picky eaters in the problem child category? We have no tolerance for adult picky eaters. They shudder when they think of the confrontational parenting saying “If you don’t eat your broccoli, there is no dessert,” as this was a constant refrain when they were kids. Now as adults, they just want a little more understanding about their food choices. Is that too much to ask?
3. They are suffering from a disorder
Researchers at Duke University have now established that very picky eating may actually be a disorder which has been labelled as a selective eating disorder. Basically, picky eaters are just experiencing food, tastes, and other sensations differently from the rest of the population. Why does every quirk of human behavior have to be labelled as a disorder?
4. They do not love food at all
Picky eaters really do like their food. They are just being highly selective. We all do this. Add in a few cultural and environmental factors and you have national delicacies which may be viewed as disgusting by other nations. When we eat, our taste buds relay to the part of the brain (the gustatory cortex) whether the flavor is acceptable or not.
5. They love telling us about their preferences
Most picky eaters I know would prefer to be swallowed up rather than have to explain why they are not eating a certain part of the dish. They also hate having to justify their choices on the menu and feel embarrassed when they have to specify that they want no sugar, salt, gluten, lactose, or meat. Leaving food untouched is embarrssing for them.
6. They were spoiled as children
Many people think that picky eaters were just allowed to pick and choose as youngsters. The opposite may be true because they were more likely to have been forced to try things or cajoled into taking two bites of everything — far from being spoiled. Now they enjoy nothing more than having a nice quiet meal at home, with no one offering advice or making unhelpful comments on balanced diets. What bliss!
7. They like being invited out to eat
Actually they do not, because the question, “What would you like to eat?” is a loaded one. There are undertones of:
- “The last time she came to eat, she turned up her nose at everything.”
- “He is such a difficult person and is never satisfied.”
- “She never compliments me on my cooking.”
- “I bet he will ask for some rare vegetable, dressing, or spice which we just don’t have.”
Now you know why picky eaters love having scrambled eggs on toast at home alone. Greta Garbo may have been a picky eater in her desire to be left alone, but there may have been another reason!
“There is no one who would have me – I can’t cook.” – Greta Garbo
8. They love everything served on one plate
Picky eaters find this a nightmare. Their ideal is a DIY salad where every ingredient is in separate little bowls and everyone can add what they like. Now, that is democratic eating. If you invite a picky eater, try doing this. It will be love at first sight!
9. They just can’t appreciate good cooking
In a society obsessed with good food, cookery TV shows, and recipes on practically every page of the web, it is no wonder that picky eaters are regarded with distaste (pardon the pun!). They are stigmatized as not being able to boil an egg. People assume they have no cooking skills and very few taste buds. But research is now pointing to the fact that they may well have actually more taste buds, which may mean their sense of taste is hypersensitive. They yearn for those simpler tastes of French fries, pizza, peanut butter, and hamburgers.
10. They are so difficult to please
If the charming hosts thought for a moment, they would come up with lots of ideas which would please even the pickiest of eaters. Simple is best, so if you decide to invite them, bear in mind that spicy foods are most likely out. Foods like lasagna, with its many layers and textures, might also prove difficult. Fruit salad is usually a safe choice, while boiled chicken with the option of gravy is usually popular — except for vegetarians, of course.
Look at these recipes for some more great ideas if your guests are picky eaters.
The best solution of all is to organize a pot luck supper. Coordinate this by email so that you do not end up with five fruit salads and one pasta dish. Bon appetit!
Featured photo credit: Eating chocolate brownie/Leonid Mamchenkov via flickr.com