Adult Picky Eaters UK

For Picky-Eating Adults in the UK and worldwide

What Is Adult Picky Eating? November 10, 2006

Picky Eating can be defined along either or both of two dimensions:

  • The extent to which one’s diet is restricted – Picky Eaters tend to exclude a great many things from their diet, often whole food groups, such as fruits or vegetables.  Particular textures may be excluded also.
  • The reasons why one’s diet is restricted – Many Picky Eaters do not on the whole refuse their avoided foods because they just don’t like the taste, or because of some aversive physiological reaction to them.  Often they have never even tried the foods they avoid.  They just can’t bring themselves to put these foods in their mouth.  What happens when they do is another story – they may well dislike certain tastes or textures to the point of not being able to tolerate them.  Many picky eaters will say that certain foods just don’t seem like food to them.  For many the avoidance is more like an instinct about certain foods than an attitude learned from experience with that particular food.

There are other characteristics of Picky Eating which some but not all picky eaters may share.  It usually starts in late infancy/early childhood.  Certainly, most picky eaters will have developed their problem before the age of 5, and the majority of those within the first 2 years of life. 

Some picky eaters also have some degree of OCD, and some have a parent who is restricted (though usually to a lesser extent)  in the range and types of food they will eat.  Many people have a few specific foods they don’t like, or even can’t bear.  Picky Eaters have rather a lot of these (!), often excluding whole food groups, even when they have no experience with them.  This in my opinion is what makes Picky Eating different from the food preferences of the rest of the population.

If you identify yourself with picky eating for any reason, please feel free to contribute here.

 

58 Responses to “What Is Adult Picky Eating?”

  1. Mat Says:

    “Picky Eaters do not on the whole refuse their avoided foods because they don’t like the taste, texture or smell, or because of some aversive physical reaction to them”

    I disagree with this. I generally avoid trying foods in the first place, especially when my instinct (or sense of smell) says I wont like it, but there are also foods that I’ve made myself try where the texture/taste/etc is too much and I can’t eat all of it.

  2. Claire Says:

    Thanks for this Mat. I’ve amended the relevant part accordingly to take into account what you say.

    I do see what you mean, but I was trying to capture what is different (in my view) about picky eating compared to the food preferences of “normal” people.

  3. marilyn Says:

    Ive considered myself a vegetarian my whole life, although it isnt fully true. I love the taste of chicken broth but cant get myself to eat chicken…it doesnt stop there, i have spent time away from home up to 6-7 months and when i couldn’t find food that i “trusted” i would rely on foods that i knew would get me to survive the time i was there, “minute rice” with butter and salt, “frosted flakes” and of course “alphagetti’s”. I spend years uncomfortable at restaurants, at my inlaws, at family events, always wondering about the food. I was hoping it was a faze, unfortunatly this has gone on for at least 20 years and it has gotten to be a whole lot to deal with. I’ve recently moved away from home into a new city where food that i was a custom isnt available, ive gone back to my habits of eating minut rice and stuff but cant keep doing it… Does anyone have advice for me? Therapist, Hypnotist…?

  4. Claire Says:

    Hi Marilyn
    Welcome to the site. I’ve been a bit quiet lately – sorry about that!

  5. Jolene Says:

    I came across this site today by accendent…I’m glad to here that I am not the only one like this…. I too have wondered if a hypnotist would help. I have been told when I was younger I eat everything.
    Now My food is simple pasta (like spagetti, cheese raviolies, Lasagna) Tex mex tacos with ground beef only, cheese enchalatas & rice.
    Don’t eat steak, chiken or seafood. hamberger meat is the only meat I will eat…bacon if real crisp.
    I will eat fish if it is fried flownder (or fish sticks) I’m not a Vegitaren because I don’t eat fruit or veggies. Don’t eat breakfast much, don’t like eggs or pancakes. just don’t like breakfast foods. Toast with crispy bacon…or a donute is ok (plain though)
    Makes going out to restants that are new or dinner at someones house often unconfortable or worrysome.

  6. KAT Says:

    I have been a “picky-eater” too long too remember when it started, so I guess all my life. I don’t eat any kind of veggies, and very few fruits(bananas & sometimes apples). I tell myself I will try to eat healthy, but the thought of veggies makes me ill. Needless to say, I have a variety of health problems, with my weight being the worst. I would be open to hypnotism if anyone has been hynotized to eat veggies. I have acid reflux and migraines also. And if you take all the “trigger” foods out of my diet, with the ones I already won’t eat…it’s pretty much bread and water. Has anyone tried to be hypnotize?

    • Cody Patton Says:

      The best advice I can give you? force it. Even if you puke EVERY TIME you try to eat veggies. Force them down. Its a mental thing. I didn’t like a few veggies myself, but I know they are good for me. Know it. So I eat them anyway. They taste bad, have a terrible texture, but I just muscle through it and eat them. Eventually, the texture didn’t bug me. Don’t let fear and your own mental state stop you from eating what you need. Vomit everytime you eat veggies? Take it as a challenge. Eat a small piece, force yourself to keep it down. Do something that makes you happy afterwards. You’ve won a small battle. Keep doing that until you can get a serving down. Victory. Move onto another veggie. It won’t be pleasent, or fun, or even remotly uplifting while your doing it but you know what?

      Better you to hate yourself, hell hate me, for a few months while you fix your eating habits and get your life together, than leave your friends behind when you put yourself in the grave. Man up and force the change.

  7. Brenda Says:

    My son is 16 years old. His pickyness started at age 2. I am really not sure what happened to cause this – his two older sisters do not have the same problem. He will only eat a handful of foods (plain hamburgers, bean burritos – beans and cheese only -, pizza – pepperoni only – cheese crisps, some fruits, NO veggies ever!!! No casseroles or mixed foods ever. He is frustarted at social events, his friends tease him. It’s a horrible mess. If anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear them. Thanks!!

  8. Genevieve Says:

    I’m like this. Some foods I can’t actually bring myself to try because I’m scared I’ll have such an adverse reaction to it. Love the site

  9. Jemma Says:

    I have been a “picky-eater” for 19 years (since I was 2) . I don’t eat any meat or fish, any fruit or any vegetables other than potatoes. At first I thought I was the only one with this problem. I have tried (and been forced) over the years to try new things but the thought of new foods make me feel sick. Does anyone else get this? I’m scared to try anything new incase it makes me ill. Has anyone found anything that works? Thanks. :-)

  10. mariclaire Says:

    I found your site by accident and have been completely overwhelmed. As so many people have said, I had no idea this was actually a recognized problem. I like the term Selective Eating Disorder. It doesn’t sound nearly as judgmental as “picky.”
    I live in the U.S., am 60, and have been picky my entire life. No vegetables (except for potatoes and onions), very few fruits, no eggs, no cheese, no salads, no soups, no casseroles, no ethnic food, nothing that has ever even been close to a tomato or garlic, no condiments. There are a few meats I will eat, but only if they’re prepared completely plain–no sauce or gravy or spices. In fact I pretty much won’t eat anything unless I know exactly what’s in it. Many dishes simply look and smell revolting. I know exactly how something will taste by the smell. Many times when I’ve tried to eat something my throat just locks up, and more than once I’ve actually vomited. Now I no longer make an attempt, as I know what the inevitable result will be. Unsurprisingly, this has been a huge issue in my life, with both my marriages, and all social engagements. My friends are, for the most part, tolerant, but countless times in my life I’ve been judged as deficient, made fun of, scorned, and simply left out of activities where food is involved. I try to make it clear to people that I do not want to be catered to. At virtually every restaurant I can find something to eat, even if it’s just bread or a bowl of plain rice. I want people to understand that I’m there for the company, not merely the food. But I know many times my presence is like a millstone around the collective necks. I’ve tried many times to deal with this, with no success, and I do take vitamins and calcium. I have finally decided to accept myself as I am, knowing that it would be better for me if I ate a well-rounded diet, but that it just isn’t going to happen. I’m sorry to have gone on for so long, it’s simply the first time in my life I’ve ever had the luxury of communicating with individuals who share and understand this problem. Thanks so much for this site.

  11. Claire Says:

    Hi all! Thanks for posting. Glad you found the site.

    Marieclaire I really resonate with your story.

    Also, Brenda, I don’t know what to advise. I will put up a post on it, and we can see what others have to say. In the meantime, your son should definitely check out the site – maybe he will feel less bad to know he’s not the only one. And maybe his friends should check it out too, though I guess that’s a long-shot.

  12. Jack Says:

    Marieclaire,
    Thank you for sharing your story.
    My diet seems to be very similar to yours except I will eat some cheese (american, cheddar and swiss) and you eat rice. I’ve come close to eating rice afew times but backed off. I think rice is a possibility but I have never been hungry enough.
    Socially I’m also like you also, I go for the company not the food. Food just isn’t a priority in my life. I eat to stay alive, not for fun.
    Our ages are close too and I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that I won’t change but regrets and this site has me thinking.
    Thanks again,

  13. Laura Vass Says:

    Marieclaire,
    I with ya sister, I could feel your frustration and resignation. Thank you for vocalizing my thoughts exactly about being a “picky” eater. I too like the term “selective eating disorder”.

  14. mariclaire Says:

    Hi, again. I recently discovered a tv program here in the states called Bizarre Foods. The host travels all over the world eating foods common to the country. Of course worms and other insects; bats; goose tongues (surprisingly long);chicken uterus; rooster testicles; eggs removed from a chicken before being laid; and rotten, fermented tofu that has been ‘curing’in a frightening black liquid for weeks. The last was the only item that the host couldn’t get down, had to spit it into his napkin.

    There are loads of other, even more unbelievable things that are universally disgusting. I have this strange fascination with the program. As yet they have not shown a single item that I would ever even smell, let alone taste. I almost gag just from watching him enthusiastically try anything set in front of him. I thought of all the people I’ve become “acquainted” with on this site, and couldn’t imagine that anyone would be any more willing than I to try to eat these revolting foods.

    This show has become a real guilty pleasure; I eagerly await the next episode, knowing I’ll see something ghastly beyond my wildest dreams. And being comforted by the thought that I’ll never encounter any of the dishes being served.

  15. Laura Vass Says:

    I’ve tried to watch that program that Mariclaire is referring to and there is no way I can watch. It is disgusting and I think I would rather watch “Fear Factor”. (not really, watching people gag and throwup is not my idea of an entertaining show)

  16. Nicolai Says:

    I agree with what Jack Says. The main reason I eat is to live. I dont really get any enjoyment out of food. If there were pills I could take instead of eating, id jump at the chance. 3 square pills a day !! :)
    That said, I do like my snack foods, in fact I think I am addicted to potato chips.

  17. DV1611 Says:

    KAT asked about hypnosis. I have been a picky eater for 39 years. I tried hypnosis twice–about 10 years apart. The first time, it helped me eat a little bit of salad even though I have never cared for the taste of veggies. The 2nd time under hypnosis allowed me to accept a few other foods–those unfamiliar to me especially–which was most helpful on a vacation in Mexico one year. While hypnosis helped in a very small way, it’s a very weak stimulus that requires repeated “therapy” (By that I mean one must listen to the session–recorded on cassette–on a daily basis).
    My thought was that if I could simply trick my mind into accepting any and all foods, my problem would go away. I would love an instant cure, but unfortunately, no one seems to have the right answer.

    • Cody Patton Says:

      When I quit smoking I forced the habit to die off and then threw the pack away. It was probably the hardest thing I had ever done, but I did it because I knew I needed to stop smoking if I wanted to hang around on the planet longer. You want this problem to go away? Take an active role in changing it. Get a veggie, and try it everyday until you can eat it. You puke every time you put it in your mouth? Whoopee. Do it anyway. I literally went into withdraws for days and days when I quit. Fevers, night sweats, pounding headaches, nausea, the whole bit. My dad still smoked, step mom, friends, but I quit. It wasn’t fun, or easy, but I did it. You *can* beat this, you just have to be willing to do whatever it takes, even if it means puking twice a day for a year to get a head of broccoli down. I’m sorry if that comes across as harsh, or if it paints your problem as something insignificant, but that’s the truth. Man up, and force the foods down until you can tolerate them. That’s your solution.

  18. Claire Says:

    Hi DV
    My feelings about hypnosis are the same as yours. I do find when I’m having to eat really borderline stuff that if I can just keep a good control of my mind I can manage not to gag. It’s just a VERY difficult thing to do, and in many cases impossible.

  19. katrina Says:

    I am the mother of 4 children, the youngest is a 13-year-old boy. He is the picky eater.
    As a baby and toddler he ate everything I served him, but as he got older he became increasingly picky. Now he states that he “hates his life” because he can’t eat what we eat (his diet is mostly cereal, peanut butter sandwiches, grilled cheese, chips, breakfast foods). He doesn’t/can’t eat meat, vegies, potatoes. He “hates” going to restaurants with the family, embarassed that he can’t order off the same menu as everyone else.
    Tonight he tried a bite of a hamburger and spit it out before he started to gag. I told him I was proud of him for trying. Then he started crying and stated he “hates his life:. I held him for a minute or so, then offered to make him a grilled cheese sandwich, which he accepted.
    I’m wondering about counseling.. to help him take charge of this issue.
    My concerns are for him socially, for his self-esteem. Has anyone had counseling?

  20. Katie Says:

    Hiya well i have always been fussy with my food but this is what i dont eat basically: Fruit, Veg and meat i dont like pasta or speghetti or cheese or tomatos or anything like that. All i eat is chips, waffles, chocolate and crisps, but im even fussy about those, i dont like all brands that make waffles etc and i really dont like all chips, i dont eat all the types of chocolate and i am truely happy to know there are others out there like me, and reading through this site i know that i am not a lone and you all think and feel the same as i do and that makes me feel good to know that none of us are on our own with this problem so thankyou everone. :)

  21. LC Says:

    Katrina,

    I am a 27 year old picky eater. I was forced into counseling and institutionalized when I was 10. I resented my mother for forcing me into it. Absolutely nothing was accomplished. The only help that I left with was using the foods that I would eat or tolerate to create a more well rounded meal. Like eating something with peanut butter for protein and drinking a fruit juice to substitute for fruit. But here I am now and facing the same decision for myself. I am researching CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) and Hypnotherapy (which I tried about 5 years ago to no avail). If you do take this route I suggest it be a mutual decision for you and your son. It doesn’t get any easier socially, mentally, physically. I wish I would have had the resolve and determination to get help at an earlier age. Please continue to help and support him. Don’t give up, I’m not going to.

  22. Colin Taylor Says:

    I have recently read a theory about “an over-sensitivity to disgust” which I found very helpful to understanding my “selective eating disorder” (I like this term too!) It goes like this: Disgust is a natural reaction (emotion) which has evolved over millions of years in human behaviour and is designed to help us identify and avoid things that may look like food but are in fact dangerous or unsuitable to eat (ie.which may be poisonous). For people like us, this perfectly natural emotion which everyone can identify with, has become disfunctionally attached or associated with foods which “normal” people find perfectly acceptable.

    I am 45 years old and have been unable to eat 95% of foods all my life. I have exactly the same reactions to most foods as all the people contributing here have mentioned and like you all, I’ve found it a revelation and a huge relief to find that I’m not alone in this. Like many of you I too have developed elaborate social avoidance tecniques to cope with everyday life. These of course mean that I miss out on the things most people regard as normal pleasures (eating out, family and social functions etc etc). Of course it doesn’t necessarily feel like I’m missing out – ( I always want folk to just leave me alone, so I don’t have to explain myself or face my embarrasment) but deep down I know I am missing out and I long to be “normal”.

    I first sought help 10 years ago and was offered only one treatment – CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which essentially means facing your fears slowly, over and over again until the anxiety reduces and finally disappears. So far I’ve been unable to make much progress with this and have instead used the same classic avoidance tecniques to put off the day when I make a real attempt at this type of self – treatment.

    Finding this site (and others), and watching TV programmes like “Freaky Eaters” recently screened by the BBC, and the “Farm for Fussy Eaters” on UKTV Style, has emboldened me and given me hope that given enough effort and perseverance this tried and tested form of self-help (CBT) can be the answer to this problem. So far, in 2 weeks of serious effort I have made some significant progress in trying new foods – a thing unheard of for me for 40 years ! I can’t say I’m enjoying these new foods or the process itself, but what I can say that it’s getting easier and I’m growing in confidence with every day I manage to keep it up.

    I gave up smoking 15 years ago after years of convincing myself that quitting was an impossible task – many people who still smoke feel the same sort of hopelessness as we do over our “picky eating”, over their inability to give up the fags. Like them we must prepare ourselves for the effort required and really believe and convince ourselves that WE CAN DO IT – in the end, after all “it’s mind over matter”.

    For anyone who’s interested in following my progress my contact web address is cctxt2802@yahoo.com . Please don’t pass this on to anyone who hasn’t got a real interest in the problem of eating disorders or I may have to get a new email address! I’ll try and reply to any queries and hope that everyone here has some success with their problem too. Colin T.

    • Cody Patton Says:

      YES! That’s how you do it man. THAT’S THE WAY. Force yourself to face your fear until you can tolerate it. It’s not fun, or pleasant, but your doing exactly the thing you need to do. fucking kudos man. You keep it up and tell everyone about it.

  23. Katie Says:

    Hi Everyone I was just wondering has any one actually found the secret on how to be “normal” becuase I am still trying and I haven’t got anywhere. You may see my comments above has anyone got a cure, It would be nice if there was a pill or something we could take so we could actually go out and enjoy a nice meal and just eat like everyone else. Instead of having to head to the nearest chip shop or something. Or find the nearest take away. I know that my favourite waffles are not being sold at the moment anywhere so I am finding it so hard to eat a meal at the moment what do you do when your running out of meals to eat? Any ideas anyone.

    P.s I think your all brilliant for coming on here and sharing your problems becuase I know I can say you have all helped me to know i am not on my own (none of us are alone with this problem) :)

  24. Trish Says:

    I am so glad to know there are so many others out there like me. I almost wish we could get together and have a convention.

  25. Helen Says:

    Hi Claire & everyone else reading this,

    My name is Helen and I’m working on a new series of Freaky Eaters for BBC 3. We are currently looking for people to take part in the series, share their experiences with food and try to change the way they eat. The series will offer professional help and advice from a nutritionist and psychologist and aims to over come the issues that have made having a normal diet so difficult.

    If you’d like to chat more about the show please feel free to give me a call on 020 7907 0899 or email freaky.eaters@betty.co.uk

    I look forward to hearing from you
    Helen

  26. Ryan Says:

    “Selective Eating Disorder” – like it.

    My sister directed me to this site and from reading through the description and a few comments, i can completely relate to many things brought up from suffering alike. However I won’t go on to explain my story as I’m sure the main thing we’re all interested in is sorting ourselves out!!

    I came to the conclusion that my problem came from being force fed at a young age therefore giving me a subconscious food avoidance..along with many uncomfortable dinner occasions being unable to eat with everyone else, I think I’ve blocked out the awkwardness of this problem, therefore subconsciously giving up on fixing the problem..I agree with Colin in concentrating on mind over matter, also in relation with smoking. I believe that if it’s possible to learn how to control the fear,disgust or whatever it is that we all have stopping us from eating freely then we can manipulate it to our benefit..unfortunately I haven’t mastered that technique yet.

    I tried hypnotherapy at an early age and found myself eating a couple more meals but nothing too dramatic, at 20 I tried again knowing that hypnotherapy will only work if you are 100% committed and determined to change whatever it is you’re altering..but nothing changed there either…though I don’t think the hypnotist got to the point I believed was the start of my selective eating phase.

    I’ve found that by just forcing myself to eat something presented before me has worked – specifically when staying at a friends for a while and being starving enough to pick up the cutlery..although when I have tried even with family I couldn’t quite muster up the strength to eat something foreign to me. I constantly find myself asking a million questions when I venture to eat foreign food and i’m trying to force myself into concentrating on my hunger, rather than on what exactly it is i’m about to try.

    I read a comment or an article, i can’t remember, on a chef with selective eating disorder and found that fascinating – he made other people taste his food to check that it was alright..so I’m trying to get a better understanding of food by cooking meals I wouln’t usually eat and watching food programs..that way getting a better understanding of what textures are to be expected rather than being overwhelmed on the first taste. I find it easier to incorporate food I would normally eat and combine it with a foreign food to me..

    Although I haven’t succeeded in my efforts yet, I don’t see myself giving up for a while..I can talk openly about things with selected people and many offer to help – particularly living in a house with friends at university…by helping people understand I find it more comforting when they offer their help and more willing to listen to them…being stubborn obviously doesn’t help so I need a big amount of persuasion if I’m going to get anywhere!

    I am interested in this C.B.T business and will probably have a look into it in the near future..in the meantime I hope we all discover some sort of method out of this hole, or at least learn to live happily enough not to care anymore…

    All the best, Ryan

  27. Emily Says:

    Hey!

    I have had this problem from since ever i can remember. I have never ate proper food. Its really frustrating because people always tell you just to eat, but its not as easy as that. I have improved the last few years though since i moved out of home. I now find the food i was eating boring. I dont eat great now – but i can go out for a meal and not feel isolated! i believe it does get better with age and maybe one day i will eat “normal”! at least this brings to light you are not alone. x

  28. A-M Says:

    I’ve always been weird with food. I don’t leave out whole groups, I’m just very selective about what I’ll eat and how I’ll eat it. I’m one of 4, and none of my siblings are as fussy as me. Also, although my mam used to do the whole “no dessert until you’ve finished your meal” trick, if she realised I truly couldn’t stomach something (like cooked tomatoes, my idea of hell!), she never forced me to have them. So I really can’t blame my upbringing.

    I found by reading about healthy eating, it really gave me the motivation to try new things. I was worried about putting on weight, as heart disease runs in the family, so aged 21 I decided that if I start now, it’ll be less of a shock, than if I wait till I’m 40 and have to change or else. I set myself a goal of attempting at least one new food every month. I even found a few things I now really like, like prawns and raw spinach. Cooked spinach is still disgusting though! I’m still not ‘normal’ but I’m definitely better. Now I’m nearly 23. I still don’t do Italian, but at least I eat more than one type of cheese now!

  29. Johanna Says:

    I have a son who just turned 4, and he also is extremely selective in what he eats. (He eats waffles, pancakes, eggs, bacon, french toast, and chips and crackers, and fried chicken and quesadillas if we get them from a restaraunt. Not a single fruit or vegetable.) For awhile we were just giving him what we were eating, but he ended up getting sick and the doctor told us he was too slim, so we reverted back to feeding him whatever he wants.

    A couple of months ago we went to a Feeding Clinic and met with all sorts of specialists. The psychologist in the group recommended successive appoximations (slowly introducing a food by having him tolerate it on his plate, then touch it, then bring it to his mouth to touch his lips, etc.) This hasn’t really worked very well, even though we started with a food that he liked only a few months ago (cheerios).

    Our son says that things “smell bad.” He has an incredible gag reflex, even gagging when we used a slightly different toothpaste one night. I’m very worried about his quality of life, particularl given some of the comments above. Does anybody have any recommendations of what maybe could have been done differently when you were little?

  30. Claire Says:

    Hello A-M
    It sounds as if you’ve had a lot of success in overcoming this. Well done you. I’m just really starting on it in earnest.

    Johanna, I don’t know what to suggest. Thinking back through my own experience, what would have made it better is first and foremost for it to have been accepted – ie that I couldn’t eat certain stuff, rather than that I was just choosing not to. Explicitly-acknowledged attempts to help would have been nice as well. I wouldn’t bother with the successive approximations for things I already like, but only for the inedible stuff. And, I think, as a child, being able to talk about and share the experience of what each thing was like would have been good. As I am now (belatedly) doing with my Operation Fruitalicious posts.

  31. Colleen Says:

    I too have stumbled upon this site by accident (it was the 5th link when I googled picky eating). I have been a picky eater since I turned 1 year old. My mother said I ate everything she fed me until then. I’m assuming that was when she stared feeding be adult food (food not puréed from a baby food jar). I have problems with textures and smells. I do eat meat, cheeses, eggs, vegetables and fruits BUT I do prefer most fruit and veggies to be raw. I will eat pureed spaghetti sauce but not catsup nor tomatoes.
    I have found great techniques in recent years for finding ways to socialize with others at restaurants, I check out the menus online before we go. Then I know what meal to choose and I know how to ask it to be prepared.
    One of my issues is that I will not eat a meal cold that is normally served hot. Such as Pizza, pasta, etc. I think it was because my parents insisted that I eat what was on my plate or go to bed hungry. There were many nights that I sat at the table alone staring at my plate and by the time I was hungry enough, it was too cold (this was in the days before microwaves). I don’t blame my parents because they couldn’t afford to make a separate meal for me every night.
    This is a solution that I have found helpful and I hope others will find helpful too. I concentrate on what I like. Say for instance pasta. I make my pasta the way I always have but once in a while, I’ll add a different spice or side dish. I never liked pasta salad but I do now.
    Unfortunately, I do like the things that are bad for you, sugar, chocolate, salt, etc. Again, for those who wish to try to branch out, try spin-offs of what you already like. It will take time. Be patient. But keep trying.
    My aunt once made a deal with me to try one new food a month. I couldn’t keep up with it but I do try some things, just I do it at home so I don’t make others uncomforable.

    Colleen

  32. Hilary Says:

    Hi Everyone,

    I was watching the food network channel and what happened to be on was a special called “my life in food: I’m an adult picky eater.” I started watching and it brought me to tears how closely it related to my own life experiences with foods. Mostly the stories of the blond woman Rae and the man named Bob. I can’t express the relief I felt that I was able to call my mother and my fiance and tell them that I’M NOT CRAZY!! This is real!! I was so excited to come across this show and find out about the website.

    Hilary

  33. marigold Says:

    glad to know about this, picky eaters, how you are about this.I felt very loving when the Food Chanel aired this, glad to see what this means to you…that you are not being difficult.That it is real for you with consequence, like eating alone and other
    problems created for you…we tend to measure others by what is normal for us, and do not understand why it is different for someone else. God bless and hope for you nall.

  34. Gemma Says:

    Hi,

    Im an awfully fussy eater i live on monzerella and tomarto pizza, chips, plain bread and chocolate. I have never ate a sandwich and find going for dinner etc very difficult. I went to GP for help and they were no surpport what so ever they didnt understand. I gag if i put foods i dont like in my mouth and it may cause health problams at a later date which worries me. Has anyone else here got help from anywhere?

    gem x x x

    • Cody Patton Says:

      Gag and keep going. Eat smaller portions, throw a party when you keep a bite down but DO NOT STOP. It’s a mental thing and once you finally get through to your brain that you fucking mean business it’ll cave. It won’t be easy or fun, but you CAN force a change by committing yourself to it. I forced myself to stop smoking. I forced aside social anxiety. I’m forcing aside my arachnophobia (fuck this one sucks. Spiders are satan’s little hell beasts but I absolutely refuse to be afraid of something almost 1000 times smaller than me)

  35. mariclaire Says:

    Marigold –

    My heartfelt thank you–and I know I’m speaking for many of “us,” the food lepers. Your understanding and compassion are like balm for a wound. Unlike the impatience, the accusations, and the mean words most of us have endured so very often in our lives. My sincerest gratitude to you for taking the time to bestow this gift on us, the afflicted, who have– sadly–become all too familiar with the nastiness of “normal” eaters.” Bless you.

  36. pickygirl Says:

    Wow!! I’m so glad I stumbled upon this website! Like others have said, it’s great to know I’m not alone. I have discussed my “pickyness” with friends before and they just don’t understand (apparantly as a little kid I ate anything but ever since I remember I’ve been a fussy eater and was cooking my own meals from an early age) – I’ve tried to explain it isn’t as simple as just not eating things – it goes way beyond that, it’s psychological – I just can’t bring myself to put things in my mouth or my throat just closes and I gag – and I agree with the statement at the start which says that some things I say I don’t like – I might like – I just assume/say I don’t like them but have never tried them.

    I eat more now than I used to, but hate onions (I love the flavour but can’t stand the texture – it doesn’t matter how microscopically they are chopped in something, I will find them!), most veg, all fruit, most meats and seafood etc etc.

    It is something that is really starting to upset me as we are currently trying to start a family and I know that it is REALLY important for me to eat a more balanced diet to make sure I get the right nutrients whilst pregnant and I wouldn’t want any child of mine to be as “picky” as I am – how would I explain why I’m not eating the same food as them?!

    I was considering hypnosis but I’m not sure it would work. I really really don’t know what to do about it – if only it was as easy as just getting on with it and trying food.

    It’s good to know I’m not alone, but I wish there was something we could do!

    • becky Says:

      It is nice to know that we’re not weird..that there are other people out there the same.. I believe that there is a psychological reason why we are fussy eaters.. as a child there were some foods i used to eat and then all of a sudden i stopped and didnt like them anymore.. I just could’t seem to open my mouth to try anything.. I managed to a few weeks ago which was very hard and haven’t been able to do it again.

      I wish we could all find out what makes us Picky Eaters. People just don’t seem to understand how horrible it is for us. It’s not our fault we didn’t choose to be Picky Eaters.

  37. becky Says:

    I am 22 years old. And have been a picky eater all my life. I eat very very limited amount of food. I dont have a full meal, i dont like certain foods touching other certain foods. This never used to bother me until 2 years ago when i had my son and moved in to my own house and i realised how bad my eating habits were. I really would love to be able to sit down and have a proper meal, it just seems impossible. A few weeks i finally got the courage to try a few foods, i hated them all apart from Grapes, i found i liked the taste but hated the texture i tried for weeks to get over the texture of it as i do like the taste.. But i can’t so have now stopped eating them. I tired pasta, but did not like the slimy texture.. I also found that i don’t like the taste of bread. I just don’t know what food to try, i realised that the food i do eat is quite hard.. there not slimy in texture.

    I have been reading this website and read that some picky eaters have some degree of OCD.. that is soo true. I am very organised and my fridge and cupboards are perfect with everything in order, but its not extreme.

    I went to see my doctor to make sure that my bad eating hadn’t had a bad effect on my body.. im very lucky that it hasn’t had any effect as of yet.. but i know if i carry on it eventually will. I have been researching what kind of things could i do to make me try new things. I came across HYPNOTHERAPY. has anyone tried this, and would it help?

  38. Dave Says:

    G’day, folks!

    I’m an 18 year old, from Australia. And, for the majority of my life, I’ve been a complete picky eater. And I can actually pinpoint the exact moment when it started, too. When I was a wee-one, I’d say I was around 3, I ate whatever my folks gave me, and with gusto. But one day, I got a sausage with a bad bit of meat in it- felt sick, and from then on, refused to eat meat ever again. After that, too, I stopped wanting to try different foods- I stuck to sandwiches, raw veggies and the like. I’m also lactose intolerant, although I can overcome that in terms of chocolate milkshakes. If I’m really, really hungry, I can wolf down some meat or such, but I’d prefer to be able to have a ‘normal’ diet in my day to day life.

    While I’ve never really felt that I was alone in my picky eating, I’m glad to see there are support groups to help for it. I think I’m going to schedule an appointment with my doctor to see if he can suggest any means of treating this; it’s a real bugger.

    Cheers, and I must say, I’m glad to see something like this is here. You’re helping us all, I reckon.

  39. Emilia Says:

    I’m not an adult, but I am a very very picky eater. There really is almost no food that I like- and it started a few months before I turned 2. There are some foods that the smell makes me gag (cooked veggies, fish…) a few foods that I can somewhat tolerate but I consider them as foods I don’t like (most foods actually). The only vegetables I like are lettuce and celery (raw!).

    I am very addicted to chocolate and I don’t really like candy, cake and cookies a lot if it doesn’t contain chocolate. I don’t like chocolate with nuts. My mom is always telling me “Try new things” but I am so freaked at the idea of nasty surprises that I really cannot.

    In my opinion, “pasta” does not mean “pasta with parsley sprinkled on the top” so I’ve given up on restaurant pasta, although supermarket pasta is one of the few foods I like to eat regularly. When people ask me if I like pizza, I never know what to say, because every brand is different (brand meaning pizza restaurant not topping!). The only topping I like is cheese (not extra cheese, or 3 cheeses but cheese okay?!). Some restaurants make really awesome pizza while others make pizza that smells like puke.

    I am always nervous when I eat with friends or visit relatives. If I’m at a restaurant that doesn’t serve any appetizing main dishes (most restaurants actually) I just order a “side” order of fries. If it is a restaurant that does not serve fries, like many Italian restaurants, then I take my chances with pasta (I ask for plain spaghetti) and I dip it in PLAIN tomato sauce. The dessert menu usually has at least one or two things that I almost certainly know I will like.

    Sometimes with friends, I pretend I’m not hungry just to avoid politely bad tasting food.

  40. stacey Says:

    hi, i was readin through this and it has comforted me abit, i have been a picky eater for aslong as i can remember, from being a child all my diet would contain is ham sandwiches and toast and now im older all i eat it mashed potato and southern fried chicken, i do eat other foods somtimes but put it off asmuch as i can because i dont like the thought of eating other food! when i look at other foods i instantly think i dont like it! ive been to my doctors about it but nothing seems to be done! because of my “eating habbits” i am very anemic and my iron stores are very low, i have slight gilberts syndrome, and my bmi is 18! i feel tierd and ill all the time, in the past i have force fed my self but that just leads to me feeling really sick and eve all the way through eating it! i now have 2 very young daughters and my oldest is allready become a fussy eater, i really dont want it to rub off onto them so ive booked an appointment with a dietrition at the end of the month, i really want to stop being the way i am but cant seem to do it! im hoping the dietrition will help me, its a horrible thing but im glad im not the only person in the world with this problem! does anyone know what to do about it which helps??

  41. Allison Says:

    Hi, I’ve been a picky eater since I can remember and I just love this site! Everyone’s stories are so emotional and heart-breaking to me–I’ve been in the same boat. I am now 26 years old and I definitely eat more now than I did as a kid, although certain things I can’t stand or won’t ever try due to texture, taste, etc. I don’t do anything really fancy; I prefer plain foods. That said, I do like spices, but not herbs or slathering oils. A little oil is nice when frying something up, but I have trouble in some restaurants as I ask what a menu item contains and they fail to mention it is drowned in olive oil–gross. I avoid eating out with people unless I know the restaurant beforehand. Which is pretty damaging to my social life. I once was in a Bible study group at church and the ladies always picked upscale Italian or other foreign restaurants and I frequently wouldn’t go. They asked why and I said I’m picky and don’t fancy being stared at all night and asked why I don’t just “try something”. I stopped going and lost a lot of friends because of judgmental people.

    Anyway, I’ve been reading everyone’s comments and I’d like to throw in my two-cents on how to be a HEALTHY picky eater. I am a healthy individual, BMI of 22-23, at 5’7″ and 153 lbs. (69kg/10s), regular monthly cycle (sorry guys-TMI), and healthy blood pressure, etc. I am always a biology student going into medical school in future, so this is basically right up my alley.

    First thing you need to consider are calories. The human body needs 1200 calories MINIMUM in order to survive, that with no activity. I am speaking strictly about organ function. But of course we all move around, so multiply your weight in kg by 24 (hours in a day) by 1.3 (calories per kg per hour). This will tell you how many calories you need.

    Example: 24 x 1.3 x 69 (my weight in kg) = 2152.8

    So I need 2152.8 calories per day to maintain my weight. (I actually need to lose weight, but I digress.) Also of note, for an hour of physical training you need an extra 8.5 calories per kg of body weight.

    Second are your three main sources of energy: Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates. Here’s how they work: Carbs are immediate energy. This is why sugar gives you a burst of energy, but crashes you soon after if eaten alone. Protein is a slow-burning energy essential to muscle and tissue growth and repair. Coupled with carbohydrates, it keeps you going without the crash, as once the carbs wear off, the protein kicks in. The body actually converts protein into carbs for energy (among other things) so pay no attention to the extreme no-carb or low-carb diet. Shoot for 200 – 300 grams of carbs per day, and 40 – 70 grams of protein to maintain health.

    Fat is stored energy, as well as an insulator and protector of organs. When you starve, which is what you do when you skip breakfast (which can be anything, not necessarily bacon and eggs!), your body goes into a protective mode and stores all it can from your next meal. This is why people who start eating breakfast normally will lose weight–their bodies stop thinking they are starving and so stop storing food as fat. In the morning try to eat within one hour of waking–it can be anything, from bread or crackers to a piece of fruit, heck even chocolate cake (a small slice though), but make sure it’s something digestible, not a liquid like juice or milk.

    That said, take your number of calories per day and multiply by .30, as 30% of your calories need to come from fat. (Also, 30% from carbs and 40% from protein). Divide the number you get by 9, as there are 9 calories per gram of fat. This is how many grams of fat you need per day.

    So I need: 2152.8 x .30/9 = 71.76 grams of fat per day.

    Third, you need FIBER. This is probably the biggest roadblock to health to a picky eater, besides vitamins. The average person needs 25-35 grams of fiber per day. The average person eats only 10-15. I’m gonna be gross a minute here and say that moving your bowels regularly-at least once a day-is the quickest way to detox and move towards health. So many toxins seep into the bloodstream from being “blocked up”.

    Fourth, after you get those ducks in a row, are your essential vitamins and minerals. This is where your fruits and veggies come in (along with the aforementioned fiber).

    Finally, don’t forget water!! Switch out some sugary beverages for water and you’ll feel much better sooner than you’d think.

    Now you know what you need. But how to get it? Take what you normally eat and figure out how much of this you are already getting. Figure out what you need to add, then go out and get it.

    There are many diet shakes and cereals and cereal bars out there that are fortified with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein. Boost shakes are great for protein, Slim Fast is great for protein and fiber, Fiber One makes great cereal bars and cereals. The key here is health through any means, even if you are eating only variations of what you already eat.

    Take a multivitamin, with food, daily, and IN THE EVENING. This insures absorption of all nutrients during digestion and you’ll wake up feeling much better.

    Also, if you eat eggs, GO FOR IT WITH GUSTO. Egg yolks contain so many key vitamins, minerals, and a lot of protein, so don’t skip on the yolks! Don’t be scared off of them if you’re worried about cholesterol, unless your doctor advises you against them.

    For the picky meat eaters, eat up, just go for LEAN cuts of meat. Picky bread lovers, eat lots of bread, but switch to WHOLE GRAIN pastas, rice and breads (which they make a lot of without seeds!). Go for brown and not white every time and you’re already making smarter choices. For those who are picky about texture, try smoothies! Mix any fruit with enough chocolate into a smoothie and you’ll not only get the nutritional value of eating raw fruits, you’ll barely notice the taste, and the texture will zoom past you so quickly you won’t even notice it.

    If you can avoid or phase out processed foods, DO IT. Start with canned foods. Buy frozen or fresh instead. Frozen foods can actually be better than fresh as they are frozen at the peak of their nutritional value. (I am speaking only of produce here.) If you don’t eat meat, pig out on the dairy–but go for goat’s dairy instead of cow’s, or if you have to do cow’s dairy, go for low fat. Dairy contains many nutrients as well as protein, so if you like it, go for it.

    If you want to try soy products or if you already eat soy, great, it has good nutrients–but DON’T eat it as a protein substitute. Soy protein is almost impossible for humans to digest, so don’t waste your time unless you enjoy the taste. (I do. It’s also good fiber.)

    Teas are great for you if you like tea. So drink up. If you must do coffee, don’t consume any after noon. I find that I often use caffeine as an energy substitute when I am not eating right. Don’t fall into this trap! Caffeine is fine in small amounts, but drinking it all day is the best way to lose sleep, experience muscle fatigue and cramping, and generally feel like crap in the morning.

    I hope all this helps, and I’m sorry for the long post! If anyone has any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to reply! Good luck to everyone and happy tasting!

  42. Rachel Murphy Says:

    Hello Everyone,

    I am currently studying Journalism at the University of Portsmouth and at the moment, I am doing research into writing an article on selective eating disorders. It’s something that I am a mild sufferer of and I would love to have the opportunity to talk to anybody else regarding it. The article will be unpublished and is only being used as part of my coursework portfolio. I would be very grateful for any help that can be given.

    Thanks,

    Rachel Murphy.

    rachel.murphy@myport.ac.uk

  43. Claudia Bishop Says:

    Im 16, i would class my self as a fussy eater! the only thing is as i have got older it has got worst, the foods i love one week i will hate the next! i don’t have a lot of foods i like, i have about 5 or 6 meals i love and will only eat them. when it comes to trying foods, i say i will but don’t and automatic think i won’t like it! my dad has tried to get me to eat all different types off food but i just won’t eat it and sometimes it would come to the point were i would not eat anything because it wasn’t cooked or the right produced i like! am i a fussy eater? do i have a eating disorder?

  44. Claudia Raiken Says:

    I am not a picky eater, but my 15 year old daughter is. I am amazed that there are that many people that suffer like she does. She’s asleep now, but I really want her to look at this site. Besides CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) that somebody mentioned above, and hypnotherapy –is there anything else that is sometimes successful?

  45. Anna-Mart Fourie Says:

    You don’t know what this means to me, I’m the only one around me that is picky when it comes to food. . . Nobody in my family or among my friends knows how it is to be a picky eater. We made into a joke and I easily laugh it off but its not that funny sometimes when I’m alone and know i don’t eat anything that strangers will put infront of me! To know that there are others out there is just amazing!!! i’m not weird anymore. hehe I haven’t read everyones comments but I would like to know if someone knows why we are like this?? Why we are picky when it comes to certain tipes of food? And what can I do about it?? And is this some kind of psychological problem?

  46. Misty Says:

    I’ve been a picky eater ever since I can remember. And I have actually tried the foods that I dislike. I do not like things that crunch, mostly vegetables. I will however eat carrots and celery if they are soft and mushy. It’s just something about the way they crunch, it’s like a soft type of crunch. I just can not bare it. I’ve tried a lot of different things before I decide I don’t like them. And of course, like a lot of people, I avoid some voids without even trying them based on appearance or smell. Like anchovies and brussel sprouts. I actually wouldn’t mind eating more fruits and vegetables. And have tried and many occasions to get over the “not-eating-it-because-it-crunches” thing, I just can’t do it though.

    Not a whole lot of people completely understand the avoidance of certain types of foods by picky eaters. For me it is very frustrating at times. Especially not having anyone else that can relate to it around me.

    I have a very wonderful husband. He likes to cook. Every time he cooks though he makes it to my preferences and adds things to it that he likes after I’ve gotten some. Which I’m sure at times annoys him on some level.

    No one else in my family is a picky-eater. My husband will eat anything with only a few exceptions.

    In my case, it usually is most fruits and vegetables that I rule out. But everyone is different.

  47. Tammy Says:

    OMG! I am so happy to have stumbled across this site. I have been a picky eater ever since I can remember. I actually remember spending the night with a friend and her mother made hotdogs for us. I had to tell her that I don’t like hotdogs, then she made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, that I find equally disgusting. I remember seeing the frustration and disbelief on her face. My story is similar to most of your stories: sitting at the kitchen table until my mother realized that I would not eat something regardless of the consequences, being tricked to taste something and gagging, and social events are the worst. My sister-in-law apologizes for not having prepared something that I will eat, and now she tells me what she is serving and that I can bring my own. I don’t want her to prepare food just for me, but bringing my own food is embarrassing. She doesn’t say this with any malice. I will eat some fruits and vegetables, perferrably raw, except for tomatoes, only in spaghetti sauce. I am super picky about meat, and sometimes will go a year without any meat. I can only stand very little milk with cereal, and definately not almond or vanilla milk…YUCK! No condiments: ketchup, mayo, mustard, pickles, relishes… steak sauces, etc…gag…Don’t care for chocolate, but I LOVE plain or bbq potatoes only. I cannot eat in someone’s home if I feel the home is not clean (even if the food came from a restaurant), animals in the home or, I think hands have not been washed, or in the dark (I have to see what I am eating). This creates alot of problems socially, but it makes me want to throw up just thinking about these situations.Thanks for letting me talk about my selective eatingdisorder.

  48. Sonia Says:

    Thank God for this site. now I don’t feel so alone. i’ve always been ‘picky’ and over the years I’ve gotten worse and worse but I don’t know what to do about it. The thought of trying anything New scares the hell out of me and I can’t bear to eat out or change my routine. Nobody seems to understand how difficult it is and they make it seem as though I have a choice and its my fault. This only worsened when I became a vegetarian over two years ago which is a decision I don’t regret but constantly have to defend. I’m only 17 and my diet consists mainly of pasta, pizza, chips… mostly carbohydrates and basically no flavour except for cheese. Everyone keeps telling me I need to change as though it’s so easy and I’m so frustrated because I feel so guilty when everyone has to accommodate me. Meal times are hard enough as it but whenever anyone’s over or someone asks about my odd meals I feel so ashamed even without people constantly calling attention to it. I have some health problems too (nothing serious!) Which doesn’t help matters and only makes my mother complain further. I know she’s just worried but it makes me feel sort of like a failure. Or worse, a nuisance. God, that’s not even half of it but I feel bad for rambling on so sorry to anyone who actually bothered to read this.

    • Claire Says:

      Hi Sonia and Tammy, thanks for your comments. It’s good to know the website is still appreciated, despite my having neglected it for so long.

      • Tia Karlsen Says:

        Dear Claire,

        I don’t know if I reached you the last time I left a comment here, so I am trying my luck again. I am a journalist writing a longer piece on selective eating for D2 magazine, the weekly magazine of Norway’s leading business paper The Norwegian Business Daily. Having both a brother and a friend who are so called picky eaters, I’ve always been curious about what causes selective eating and what it’s like being an adult selective eater. This year, as you might know, selective eating disorder for adults (Arfid) was recognized as a diagnosis in the US, so I thought that it might be a good occation to do an article on the subject. Not that everyone who’s a picky eater has the arfid-diagnosis, but I think it still might be helpful in explaining some of the mechanisms behind selective eating. I would love to interview you for the article, as I really like your website, and I think you could provide great insight to the article. You can contact me anytime (and preferably as soon as possible, as deadline is approaching), either by email at tia.karlsen@dn.no, or by calling me on (0047) 930 19 878.

  49. snowswift Says:

    This post is quite old, but I’m so happy I’ve found this! I am not alone *dances* At 17 I’m not exactly an adult, but hey, I’m hardly a five year old screaming at the dinner table (though I was once!)
    It’s easier to name the things I can eat rather than the things I can’t: Meat, potatoes (but not mashed, new or jacket), pasta. I hate all fruits, most veg, all dairy, anything spicy, all sauces/condiments, bread, sweets, most fish, you get the picture. I don’t find my diet restrictive at all, because I’m so used to it, but others do not understand. They think I am spoilt. But I have in fact tried most of the foods I dislike. Even then, I can hardly put the foods to my lips without feeling repulsed/contaminated, can’t stand to have it on my plate, and it is fear that I feel when presented with it. It’s awful, and I could never eat something at a social event just to be ‘polite’. I literally cannot stand it.
    Apparently I used to enjoy many foods as a little kid, but that disappeared very quickly. I have no idea why I am this way. I just know it’s not something I’ll ever overcome, nor do I actually want to.
    What makes it worse… I work in McDonald’s! I am a cook in the kitchens and having to touch the pickles, the sauce, the cheese, etc is revolting to me. I just try not to think of it as food.
    Anyway, I’ll have a look around on here. It’s nice to find some like-minded souls!

  50. scott Says:

    i am 25 and my diet consists of jam sandwiches, cornflackes, weetabix, crisps, chocolate and fizzy juice. i have had this diet since before i can remember, my mum had me in and out of the docters and they said i was above average height and the perfect weight for my age and i will eat when i am hungry and my mum was put on the anxious parent category for how local GPs deal with patients, as my mum was determined that Gps were wrong and not looking close enough. i have approached my Gp last year to help if i can change my ways as i dont feel as i have a choice about what i can or cant eat, i do believe it is built in instinct or enhanced taste buds, also to had my diet does not consist of anything hot and i have tried to eat new things but with no success plus anything warm to touch feels like it burns my teeth and mouth but i dont consider myself having sensitive teeth as i can put ice cubes in my mouth with no pain or bad sensation to my teeth.well i approached my GP to seek help and they had no knowledge it exists and i mention that its like freaky eater on bbc 3 but they no nothing of this either so i am spoilt to explain my situation as its not easy as there questions always, if you dont eat meat or veg and fruit well what do you eat then? and its embarrassing because i look healthy i am not over or under weight, classed as stronger than most of my family and friends as i try to stay fit, i must appear as i am making this up because their is nothing wrong with me to the eye. i cant find the help, if there is any for me, i did finally get to a theripist but it didnt last as tho, it was explained to me there are no systems emplace to help my situation and i will have to do the hard bit myself and return to speak to the theripist to speak about any progress, for me this is what i have done since i was a kid and i have tried so many different foods with the outcome of me being physically sick to each occasion or in pain from mild heat and this was last year i tried onion rings as my latest attempt but it can be so off putting because visually i can see certain foods as cat or dog food and it is like my body and mind are fighting what i am trying to do for myself as i have lost out on so many social occasions because of it, i dont want to give up on an answer for what i have got but it can be all to much at times.


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