Adult Picky Eaters UK

For Picky-Eating Adults in the UK and worldwide

What’s Your Story? November 11, 2006

Filed under: Personal Stories — Claire @ 3:15 am

If you’d like to get the story of your own picky eating off your chest, post it here.  Don’t bottle it up, let it out.  Sharing our experiences with like-minded others can be immensely healing, and hopefully we will be able to learn from as well as support eachother.  Your story will help other picky eaters feel less alone.  You can read my story on the About Me page.  No doubt there’ll be things in it you share, and things that you don’t.  Add yours.

Looking forward to hearing from you.


32 Responses to “What’s Your Story?”

  1. Phil Says:

    OK, I’ll open up this one. I’ve just read the post and the comments on the “Cooking with Amy” blog. If any of the parents from the Yahoo PEA group make it across to here, you can get a feel for some of the stuff we have to put up with as adults by reading that. While I admire your goal of protecting your kids from these types of attitudes, I’d be concerned that you’re being unrealistic and may not be doing them any favours in the long run – pretending they don’t exist doesn’t make them go away and does not equip them for dealing with such people. Anyway, getting off-topic already!

    Where to start? At the beginning I guess…

    My parents were living in France when I was born. I don’t think my mother really wanted to be there and she spoke minimal French so doubtless that didn’t help. She doesn’t talk about it, but I can only imagine how tough it was for here being stuck in an alien land in the 1950s, primitive facilities and hospital with a bunch of people shouting at you in a foreign language as you give birth. Add to that you already have several children, one of whom is only 15 months old, that you have to take care of too. It would not have been easy. One way or another this probably had some bearing on why I was not treated particularly well as a young child. In a large family, everybody feels that they are the one doing it tough and the siblings get an easier ride. In my case they all agree that I was the one! I have no hang-ups about this now and I love me mother dearly, just mentioning this as a scene-setter and because it may have some relevance.

    Some of my earliest memories were of refusing to eat foods of various kinds. I would eat no meat bar sausages – no pork, beef, lamb, chicken, fish, internal organs or anything else. Just sausages. I would eat no vegetables apart from potatoes and peas – absolutely nothing else. I would eat no fruit at all. None. I would eat nothing on sandwiches but peanut butter or lemon spread – no cheese, no jams of any kind, no savoury spreads, nothing else. I’d eat some biscuits and cakes, but only plain or iced sponges, nothing with fruit or jam. How the hell did I survive?

    Anybody who has experienced school lunches in the UK prior to the 1980s would relate to difficulties eating them – in a little backwater village in the 1960s they were pretty awful. And of course I couldn’t eat much of anything anyway, so that was pretty tough. I honestly can’t remember how I got away with it – in those days the teachers would insist you cleared your plate, something I physically could not have done. The head cook used to call me “the meat one” when she spoke to my mother about me – probably should’ve been “the meat, vegetables and fruit one”, since I didn’t eat any of them!

    I had no support at home for my affliction. I have vivid memories of siblings holding me down trying to force foods between my clenched teeth, my mother trying every possible threat or trick to make me eat something I wouldn’t, vomiting after finally trying to eat a microscopic piece of cauliflower, being berated and ridiculed for being fussy. This is where it’s interesting to read comments by the many “experts” such as the lynching party over on Amy’s blog. I’d have given anything to just eat what was there and be normal – to stop the terrible feelings of failure that overwhelm you when you’re being harrassed to try something that you just know will make you vomit. I am very clear that I was not on any kind of power/control play there, anything but.

    I guess by the time I hit high school my family had largely accepted the way I was. I don’t recall being pushed the “just try it, how do you know you don’t like it?” line by then. I’d progressed sufficiently to now include pork, beef, bacon and chicken into my diet, and had added baked beans to my list of acceptable vegetables. Still no fruit whatsoever. And still only peanut butter or lemon spread on my sandwiches!

    High school lunches were a bit of a strain, but luckily there were kids who’d eat anything so it was not hard to offload the bad stuff. We migrated to southern Africa when I was in my early teens, and we switched to sandwich lunches so that simplified things a lot. So it was pretty much status quo until leaving school.

    I left home and went to London shortly after finishing high school and this was where I was really tested. I was living in a shared flat and it soon became clear that eating out was going to be a major challenge, something I’d not been exposed to at that time. I hate tomatoes more than just about anything, and it seems at least 50% of all restaurant meals contain tomato in some form. So I’m already behind the eight-ball. Then there’s all those other things I don’t eat, many of which are not even mentioned on the menu and you only find out when the meal is delivered to your table. So you give it your best shot and leave what you can’t eat. But that is easy-peasy compared with going to dinner at somebody’s house (here’s the other side for you Amy).

    The chances are that your host/ess has put a lot of thought into preparing an exciting and varied menu and there’s a 50-50 chance that he/she’s used tomatoes in the recipe for the main course. It’s more like a 90-10 chance that he/she’s used something that you don’t eat and it’s central to the meal and can’t be separated. So you sit and pick and now your hots/ess feels bad (or angry if they’re one of Amy’s posse) that you can’t eat the wonderful meal. Hmm that was a great success, wasn’t it? So what’s the alternative?

    Well you can say beforehand, “I’m really sorry but I have a severe eating disorder and I can only eat these things on this list”. Great! So now your host/ess has to figure out how to feed eight people catering for the lowest common denominator… you! He/she either presses ahead anyway and tries to accommodate you somehow, or serves up a very bland dinner that leaves everybody wondering why. Whatever happens, during the course of the evening it becomes clear that you’re just a big baby with unsophisticated tastes who is trying to control everybody else. So everybody around the table either feels pity for you or is ridiculing you – hmm that makes for a great evening all around, doesn’t it?

    Anyway, moving forward… I’ve been Australia for most of my adult life and I’ve got to the point where I’m reasonably comfortable eating at restaurants and asking for modified menu items – chef doesn’t like it? Too bad! There’s no rule that you have to combine 37 different foods on one plate just to be more original than the guy down the road. So he spat on my steak? Who cares, as long as I don’t know and I don’t catch anything. So after 30-odd years I have that side reasonably under control (it probably helps that Aussies are pretty laid back and have a more live and let live attitude than some other western cultures).

    But it’s not so easy eating at people’s homes. Truth is I just avoid it. I’m not happy about that and it obviously causes strain in relationships, but I just don’t have a better answer. Similarly eating at wedding receptions and other formal places where there’s a set menu – not much fun at those – especially when the organisers insist on mixing you up so you’re sitting with a bunch of strangers who can make fun of your problems. I’ll pass, thanks.

    And there you have it. A far more personal account than I set out to give, but hey if we’re going to figure this out I guess we need to be pretty open. Give it your best shot – the Amy posse may find its way over here and may wish to take a few pot-shots… be my guest. Not much anybody can say that I haven’t heard before. But to my fellow sufferers, if you recognise anything in this, I’d be interested to hear it.


  2. Claire Says:

    Thank you so much for this Phil. I was just the same – potatoes and peas! I stopped eating peas around age three though – I tried to eat them again once, when I was about 14, I tried to make myself do it, but I just couldn’t. I nearly made myself sick trying.

    The whole eating thing really did feel like a failure to me too. Still does, even now. And I still wonder what the bloody hell is wrong with me.

    One thing though, about eating at other people’s houses – I sometimes dread it, but I don’t avoid it. I just say before I go that I’ve got an “eating thing”, so there’s a good chance I won’t eat much. I tell them just to cook whatever they want to (I’d feel dreadful if they catered just for me), but to please please not be offended with me if I don’t eat, and I’ll be happy just as long as there’s some bread. Most people seem ok with that, although you just know they’d prefer it if I could appreciate their cooking (why?).

    If I’d cooked, say, a dog-shit pie, and felt really clever about it, I’d still feel good whether anyone ate it or not. And, I’d totally understand if my friends didn’t fancy it. I picked that particular example, because that is what cooking fancy food for someone who you know is a picky eater, and then being offended when they can’t eat it kind of amounts to. It’s mean. I should be saying this at Amy’s place, I guess. I’ve given her a ping-back, so maybe she’ll see this anyway.

  3. Claire Says:

    “Whatever happens, during the course of the evening it becomes clear that you’re just a big baby with unsophisticated tastes who is trying to control everybody else.”

    This also really resonated with me. I haven’t been able to put it into words before, but you’ve just summed up perfectly what it feels like to me. Thank you.

  4. Amy Says:

    A question. Is it easier to live with picky eating or treat it?

    I’m just curious. Given the stigma attached and the pain associated with picky eating, I would think it would be easier to get the kind of help that psychiatrists (who consider it a disorder) can offer. I found the “understanding picky eating” link very interesting as well as the article in the Washington Post which also addresses treatment.

  5. Claire Says:

    Well, I don’t know what other people think, but I would say it isn’t a simple choice between treating it and living with it. I’ve never been offered any treatment specific to this dysfunction. Considering that it is very much under-acknowledged and poorly understood (by the medical profession as well as by the blogging community!), this is not really surprising I guess. I’ve lived with it for 33 years for the simple reason that I was never offered any alternative. I guess it was easier for me to live with it than it was for the medical profession to conduct enough research to find a way of treating it. I’m hoping that will change if we get together and become a bit more vocal about it.

    People that I know of who have tried interventions such as psychotherapy, cbt and hypnotherapy on the whole don’t report very much improvement (if any). I have some theories as to why this might be, but that’s all they are, theories, and no-one seems to know any better.

    Thanks for your comment!

  6. Melanie Says:

    Hello All!

    Here’s my story. I’ll start from the top!

    I’m 24 and live in the States, in Maine. Have been a picky eater all my life. Although, from reading on the internet, I realize don’t have it as bad as some. I like starches, dairy except for really strong cheeses, and 3 veggies. I like buttercup squash (I think because it like potatos to me), and carrots with brown sugar butter and honey, and corn.

    I was adopted at 6 weeks old by my Mom and Dad, so my family history is uknown.

    When I was little I was very picky. My mother tells me that I wouldn’t eat veggie baby food even as a baby. I’ve done some research about it, and found that babies do get some of their tastes from a mother’s breast milk from what she eats. Sometimes I wonder if since I was adopted and had only formula, if that contributed to my picky eating.

    All throughout childhood (well, now as well) I survived on starch and dairy. I really don’t care for meat, although I’ll eat some. And I hate vegetables and most fruit. My mom gave up on trying to make me eat things probably when I was 4 or 5.

    I too suffered with HORRIBLE lunchs in school. I hated most everything and would only eat was the plain cheese pizza (which didn’t taste very good, but I could eat it none the less). I loved spagetti-o’s so mom would usually cook me some and stick it in a thermos and I’d eat that, everyday. I seem to like almost anything that’s heavily processed. My husband jokes that I will only eat something if its been “triple processed, triple fried!”

    I avoided going to friends houses because I had a traumatic experience where I went to a friends house for a sleep over when I was about 6. They were having tuna casserole. As I remember it was tuna, cream of mushroom soup, peas, carrots, and noodles. For one, all seafood completly disgusts me, for two, everything was mixed together which at the time was a big no-no in my world (now I do mix some things). So I was forced to eat this disgusting casserole and her parents were the kind that didn’t let you leave the table without cleaning your plate. So I started eating it and about half way through I ended up throwing up all over their dining room table. They got very angry with me because they thought I did it on purpose (I’d like to know who throws up at the dinner table on purpose!) and called my mother who brought me home. So after that point, I wasn’t going over to a friends house, with the exception of my best friend who’s mom was well aware of what I ate and what I didn’t eat.

    At age 11, I went to the orthodontist because my denist was concerned about my teeth. The orthodontist concluded I had permenant baby teeth on the sides of my mouth. I was the last one to get a star on the tooth chart at school when I was younger, which I also remember as being very traumatic. So at age 12 I had surgery to remove them because otherwise when my permenant teeth came in I’d have a double set of teeth. They pulled out 13 teeth. So all I was left with was the permenant ones that did come in in the front. They thought the new ones would come in very quickly….WRONG!….I didn’t have any side teeth for over a year. So this definately compounded my eating problem. I survived off spagetti o’s, and pudding.

    Because my hometown school was, well lets say, not known for a great education. I went to a private girls school. Here lunch was great! There was no cafeteria there, so you either brought your lunch or you bought potato chips and some candy at the small school store or ate what the food of the day was. Eat club made lunch to raise money. The tennis team made pasta, the french club made bread and soup, Spanish club made nachos, senior class order pizza on Fridays. So I was not out of place a bit since many girls never brought lunch and ate the same bag of potato chips I did. No really noticed my picky eating.

    After getting out of high school. I started working and going to college at night. Because no one was there to make me eat, I’d generally wouldn’t eat a meal and maybe had some crackers. Sometimes I’d eat and I just couldn’t keep it down and would throw up. I eventually lost so much weight, I got really sick.

    Once I got better, I had to remind myself to eat and make sure I was taking vitamins and I’ve been pretty good since. Its been much easier now, because I really enjoy cooking.

    I started cooking when my husband and I got together. He burnt everything he cooked so I started making dinner. I’ve always enjoyed baking so I thought cooking wouldn’t be that far off. I cook every night now for us, and found out I’m a really great cook even though much of what I cook I wouldn’t dream of eating. My husband loves the dishes I make. I’ve also found that I have a wierd attribute. I find I like the taste of some veggies but I can’t handle the texture. I like the taste of onion, or the taste of garlic but if I crunch down into one I’ll gag. So I do cook with veggies like that but make sure they’re bigg enough for me to fish out later.

    I know many picky eaters hate fruit, too, but I like a lot of it. I love berries and citrus. I’ll eat lemons raw. My mother is from eastern Maine, and my grandfather owned much of the blueberry land up there. For those who don’t know, Maine harvests most wild blueberries that are consumed in the U.S. I’m not sure about Europe. There is also a big difference between wild and cutivated blueberries. Wild blueberries are small the cultivated ones are big and almost look like grapes. I hate grapes and I hate cultivated bluberries. So I was brought up eating tons of those, and when old enough I had to work in the fields. So sitting on my bucket and eating them was a great way for me to get out of raking. Any way, I think that’s why I like them is because mom got me to eat them early.

    This brings me to today. My day consists of coffee in the morning, a bagel for lunch (I eat the same thing every day), and part whatever I make for dinner. I find what I stuggle most with is company functions. I am an insurance agent and we have many meetings usually involving lunch and corporate dinner functions. Going to them are so humiliating. Every lunch somebody always sees me eating bread only (because everything else is off limits, its usually a cold cut buffet) and they start making fun of me. Although, I do tolerate meat, it has to be hot. Cold meat is just as bad as veggies. Or if I go to a dinner, I only eat a little of my food. Some usually says “you know, you should really try new things and refine palate.” I feel like telling them take your palate and shove it up you a**!

    This brings me to my meat issue. Although I could eat meat in the past, I find now I really don’t like it. This change didn’t happen until this June.

    I had to go to on of those dreadful company dinners for to accept a sales award. So my husband and I make the 4 hour trip down to headquarters. We go to this restaurant and I could barely find anything I would eat. I saw the steak and ordered that. So I get this steak, thinking it would just be a steak and some mashed potatos (plus some aspargus which I told them hold). I get it and they’ve put a mystery sauce on it. Arggg! They told me it was a wine sauce. So I cut into it and take a bite and it tastes horrible. I *think* its the sauce and gulp down a couple more bits and call it done. Of course, some one was like “is that all you’re going to eat”. Thats beside the point, but I’m sure you all understand! So we finish dinner and go back to the hotel. I get there and I feel bad, thinking its because I just ate something that tasted so horrible, and just go to bed. I wake up the next morning and have the worst stomach pains I’ve ever had in my life. I find out later steak was BAD! We stay at the hotel all morning hoping I’d feel better before we drove home. No such luck. I spend the next 4 hours screaming in pain about every 10 or 15 minutes. I remained sick like that all weekend and went to my doctor on Monday. He does tests to figure out what’s wrong and when nothing can be found he concludes food poisoning. I was sick for 3 weeks. I barely ate anything because about an hour after I ate, I’d get the pains. I ended up losing a lot of weight and went from about 130lbs to about 110-105lbs.

    Ever since then, I really don’t like meat. I’m afraid to eat it, even when I know its okay because I cooked it. When I do try to eat it, it tastes almost like it did when I ate that stupid steak. So needless to say I’ve cut something out of my ever so small diet. I’m hoping maybe I will like it again.

    So that’s my stoy!

  7. novegthanks Says:

    Hi Melanie, I used to hardly eat any meat, but now I love it and would starve without it. But, like you, only when it’s hot. Cold roast beef is as off-putting to me as a broccoli, cauliflower and pumpkin pie!


  8. Melanie Says:

    Hi Phil! I’m wondering if the cold meat thing is related to an instinct gone wrong in our heads. I know my cat will only eat meat that is warm. I asked the vet about it at his last checkup and he said, many animals will not eat cold meat because they associate it with it being old, and in animal instinct cold equals old which equals disease. Its a protective mechanism to prevent getting sick. Don’t know if that’s true about us fellow cold meat haters, but its an interesting thought!

  9. rach Says:

    I am 25 and live in Lancashire, England. I have been a picky eater all my life. I can’t eat anything which is green, its like I have a physical barrier that stops me from putting it in my mouth. Everyone who knows about how I eat thinks that I am crazy. I don’t eat any vegetables except potatoes. I don’t eat fruit (I do drink smoothie though – I think that is a texture rather than a taste thing). If I did manage to convince myself that eating an orange is a good idea, it makes me choke and gag when I try to swallow it. When I was young and my mum made pies for tea, she would put onions in them, if I was lucky she would make me a seperate one without onions, otherwise I would have to pick them out one by one (something if my dad caught me doing there was hell to pay). I have real problems eating anything that resembles what it once was, like fish is ok as fishfingers, because I just think of it as being fishfiger rather than having been made from fish!! But if I get a fish bone in my mouth then I can’t eat the rest of my meal, it all goes in the bin! Or another example is if I am eating eggs and happen to think about where they are actually from and their biology, then they go in the bin as well. Everyone tells me that I just need to “get over it” but they don’t understand that its not that simple. I am desperate to be able to change the way I eat, but I just don’t know how or who to turn to for help.

    It makes me feel much bette to know that I’m not the only one……

  10. Claire Says:

    Hi rach, good to hear from you. I know just what you mean about there being a physical barrier to stop you putting stuff in your mouth. Thanks for sharing your story.

  11. Claire Says:

    Btw, Mel & Phil
    I don’t have a problem with cold meats. Hot, cold, makes no difference to me. I’d be interested if there are any picky eaters out there that can eat things like liver, kidney, black pudding, haggis and so on. I know I never would, though I gather haggis is delicious.

  12. Melanie Says:

    Hmmm, haggis…I never heard of it. What is it? Maybe we call it something different here in the States. I know for sure though, wouldn’t dream of eating liver or kidneys! Hot or cold! If any one PE’s like it I’d be interested, too.

    You all will be happy to know I survived Thanksgiving! My husband’s family diner was a little difficult since they make some weird things like fiddleheads, and turnip (turnip isn’t weird I know, but it smells horrid). I sat as far away from them as could and it was okay. And even though I’m still having my meat issues. A couple of bites of turkey wasn’t bad.

    Thanks for sharing Rach! Glad you found us! You’re not alone. 🙂 I know how you feel about the fish thing. I have an allergy to shellfish so I usually stay away ocean fare altogher but the thought of cracking a crab or lobster, eating shrimp, or eating a fish that looks like a fish, turns me off in the same way. Although for me, I have no problems with whole chickens or turkeys. I guess if the head/feet were still there it would bother me, but the ones from the supermarket, I’m okay with.

    Take care!

  13. Claire Says:

    Hi Mel

    You’ve got a delayed response to your comment I’m afraid – Sorry about that. In answer to your question about haggis (if you are squeamish, you might want to hold someone’s hand while you read on):

    Haggis is a traditional Scottish dish. Although there are many recipes, it is normally made with the following ingredients: sheep’s ‘pluck’ (heart, liver, and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal’s stomach for approximately an hour. It somewhat resembles stuffed intestines (pig intestines otherwise known as chitterlings), sausages and savory puddings of which it is among the largest types. Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a casing rather than an actual stomach. There are also meat-free recipes specifically for vegetarians that supposedly taste similar to the meat-based recipes. Our famous Scottish poet Robert Burns had a great love for Haggis and even wrote a poem about it ! “

    Good to hear your Thanksgiving was ok.
    Take care

  14. Mel Says:

    Wow! Squimish I am and its a good thing I’m sitting as reading that discription made me a bit faint. That’s one of the worst sounding dishes I’ve ever heard of! (I mean no disrespect to those who enjoy it or you folks in the UK.)

    Thanks for the UK to USA translation!


  15. John Says:

    Is anyone able to start eating something and they think it is going to be ok then part of the way into the meal the food just won’t go down any more no matter how long you chew and you have to spit it out?

  16. Claire Says:

    Hi John
    Yes, I’ve had that. For me it’s not totally out of the blue though. It would only happen with something that I already felt borderline about. I’d start off feeling confident about being able to overcome the urge not to eat that thing, and then somehow find myself not able to overcome the urge after all. Does that make any sense? Is that the kind of thing you meant?

  17. Cindy Says:

    Hi Everyone.
    I know this is a website for the UK but I came across it browsing for others like me.

    I have been a picky eater all of my life. My Mom took me to the dr. when I was little because she was worried because I wouldn’t eat “normally”.

    I do not eat any meat except for very well done bacon. Absolutely no chewy stuff on it at all thank you. I do not eat any seafood either. The smell and look of it makes me want to hurl. The only fruits I eat are apples(not cooked no pie for me), bananas, grapes, and watermelon and I will suck the juice out of an orange but won’t eat it because of the little stringy things.(also only pulpless orange juice)

    For veges I will eat raw carrots, lettuce, radishes(with salt)celery. The only cooked veges I will eat is corn and french style canned only green beans.

    I will also eat mashed potatoes, baked potatos and french fries(but not thick fries)

    I do eat some seeds and nuts. Sunflower(no shell) and pumpkin seeds(David brand only). Peanuts, pistachios, cashews sometimes but not very many and walnuts.

    For dairy I do love love milk. Grew up drinking whole milk but that makes me really gag now..way too thick. Skim milk only for me now. Also “basic cheeses”. thin sliced only. Scrambled eggs also. Breakfast foods are actually my favorite foods to eat because they are the foods I eat most normal. French toast, pancakes, scrambled eggs, toast.

    No condiments on anything for me. Peanut butter, butter,sugar and salt are my only additions to anything for me.

    I don’t like anything in large bites and textures of foods are very important to me. I also eat slower than most everyone I know. No tomato in anyform for me either please.

    Cheese pizza thin crust no sauce for me. Cereal was my dinner many of times growing up if my mom didn’t have potatos and bread as part of the dinner.

    My friends and family are all very supportive of me. They most of the time ask me where I want to go when we go out because they will pretty much eat anything and I have to choose somewhere that will have something for me. If I know I’m going somewhere that there won’t be food for me I eat at home first.

    Sometimes I wish so much that I would like some things because I really like the smell. Like smokey links or a big burget on the grill loaded with everything but the thougth of putting that in my mouth makes me gag.

    Oh also I like things like brownies for example and walnuts but hate walnuts in my brownies.

    Sometimes it is so exhausting eating this was because it’s hard when you go places. I travel to Jamaica once per year and have to make sure I rent a room with a kitchen so I can eat for the week.

    Also makes it very hard for me to lose weight because pretty much everything I like is a major carb and very starchy.

  18. Claire Says:

    Hi Cindy, Hello and Welcome.
    It’s good to hear from you, hope you stick around. I know what you mean about the major carb thing.

  19. karen Aldrin Says:

    Hi everyone.
    Can’t believe how similiar everyone is to me.I to have lived on starchy,major carbs for most of my life.I luckily was always very thin.But now reaching my 40’s things are starting to go downhill.Everything i eat is considered “BAD” by “normal”people.I am seriuosly getting concerened about the weight issue as i get older.I have no “diet”foods i could eat,i would just have to eat very little.
    Its very weird how we all like/dislike pretty much all the same things.It funnily enough makes me feel less weird!
    Wouldn’t it be great to have a party,with a buffet table just how we’d all like it.
    Lunchtimes out are the hardest for me,and usually involve bread and a bag of crisps.I don’t eat sandwiches as they are always cold meat/cheese/salad etc.I like my sandwiches toasted only.At school my lunch used to be 10-15 bags of crisps everyday!And i was the envy of everyone as i was so skinny with beautiful skin.
    Its ironic as well that i am seen as such an unhealthy eater,but i work in such a glamourous profession.I am a Beauty Consultant and Beauty Therapist and I am greatly admired for my glowing skin and hair.
    Does anyone out there have grave concerns about there future health.Do you think we are all ticking timebombs.I even got my Doctor to reluctantly check my cholestrol, to try and scare myself into eating better,but it turned out to be below normal.How ironic.

  20. Claire Says:

    Hi again Karen

    Thanks for sharing your story. I share your weight concerns, with most healthy/diet foods off the menu.

    And I used to be just like you! When I was 18/19, I used to just eat 10-15 packets of crisps in a day. Or sometimes it would be 10 tubes of smarties, or 10 creme eggs. And I was skinny and gorgeous.

    I think not being able to drink anything other than water is probably quite good for one’s skin. I’ve never drunk fizzy soft drinks, and it’s only since my twenties that I’ve really done fruit juice.

  21. Joe Sweeney Says:

    Hello! I stumbled across an article about adult picky eaters this morning on MSN, and I am just so greatful to find others like me!! My life has been quite stressfull when it comes to social situations. I’m 47 years old, and have been a picky eater all my life. As a child, all I would it was cereal, PB&J, cheese pizza, and pasta with margarine. I’d force down a hamburger only with a whole bottle of catsup. I’d eat raw carrots, but no other vegetables. Potatoes are okay only if the are chips or crispy french fries. And the foods I eat have to be a particular brand. Heinz catsup, Parkay margarine, etc. In my twenties, I learned to like iceburg lettuce with Italian dressing, and I’ve recently graduated to Romaine lettuce with Caesar dressing. Until my thirties, I could not feel comfortable going out to a restaurant to eat.

  22. Christi Says:

    OK…I’m 30 years old and I’ve been a picky eater all my life. It’s not been as severe as some of the stories I’ve read, but it has affected my life, not only socially, but medically as well. My mom told me she used to have a hell of a time trying to get me to eat vegetables, even as a baby. As time went on, it got worse. I remember sitting at the dinner table, thankful that I had a dog that liked vegetables. My parents sometimes caught me feeding the dog, and I’d get more vegetables put on my plate. Once I got to college, I cut out everything that I hated to eat. I started taking vitamins because I knew that without fruit or vegetables in my diet I ran the risk of contracting illneses. Today my diet consists of meat, dairy, and pasta. But with the pasta only comes white sauce, since I hate tomatoes. I can’t stand to have food on the same plate touching. I like rice, but only as a side. If it’s IN the food (as it is in many mexican restaurants here) I won’t eat it. In fact, the only thing I can eat at mexican restaurants is nachos, and by the time i ask for things that I hate to be taken off, is really just chips and cheese. I’ve been made fun of by my coworkers for the extent of my pickiness. They think I eat like I do to get some sort of twisted attention, when really, I just want to fade in the background. My boyfriend hates it when I pick through my food when we go out, just to see if a stray vegetable got mixed in, but I have to do it. If I order a burger with a group of friends and it comes with vegetables even after I asked for it sans veggies, I can hear a collective “OOoooooo…what are you gonna do now?” followed by the usual laughter. I can’t count the number of times that people find out I hate potatoes and exclaim “But you’re from IDAHO! You HAVE to like potatoes!” Most of the time it rolls off my back, but every now and again (especially on a bad day), it really pisses me off. Obviously I’ve learned to deal with that aspect, but medically, I’m starting to see problems. High triglycerides, blood pressure, etc. My doctor doesn’t listen to me when I tell him I hate fruit and vegetables and will not eat them. He tells me to try. We’ve had the same conversation countless times. Nothing gets done and it’s completely frustrating. I’ve never felt alone, per se, but it’s good to know that there are others out there like me. Some, I’ve noticed by reading up on picky eating, have it worse than me, and I’m thankful that it hasn’t affected my life even more than it has.

  23. Jack Says:

    It is truly amazing to me how these life stories all sound similar to mine. The biggest difference I read is that I may be a bit older than most out there and of course the pickiest eater on the planet. I’m just about ready to turn a ripe 58.

    I’m the youngest of 3 children and my parents and sisters said that my eating problems started around 3 years of age after I had my tonsils removed.
    I’m told for the longest time all I’d eat was baby food like applesauce and such.
    I have memories of falling asleep late at night at the kitchen table refusing to eat what was put on my plate hours earlier.
    My mother probably spoiled me but I also recall my father taking a belt to me way too often. Once I remember him actually throwing me up the stairs after being frustrated by my eating behavior. Nothing worked.

    I can vividly recall freaking out on my first day of Kindergarten, not by the thought of being left alone by my mother, but rather the putrid smells of lunch being prepared in the school cafeteria. My panic and fear was that I would be forced to eat, but phew, it was only an afternoon session and I adjusted to the odors.
    Grammar school was OK as it was somewhat normal to eat cream cheese and jelly everyday, or the occasional apple butter sandwich, milk with a delicious Twinkie.
    I was a lousy student and the class clown. Somehow I learned to eat a really awful concoction called Franco-American Spaghetti.
    I avoided things like boy scouts, friends house and activities that made me eat away from home. My parents never participated in my activities other than church and it took a lot of effort forcing myself to attend a little league baseball banquet. I attended the banquet simply because I wanted to receive my trophy for most improved player so badly. My Aunts and Uncles never understood the way I was and was always a disappointment or embarrassment to my parents. I consensus was that I was a spoiled baby / brat. My early childhood was an absolute disaster.

    In High School things were starting to get tricky. I had to sharpen my skills if I were to survive amongst my peers.
    Hamburgers and pizza are acceptable amongst teens but I had to be careful. Too many people would notice that I eat the same things over and over again.
    I mean what kind of teenage boy won’t eat a hot dog or meatball sub? Well I’m one.
    I avoided class trips and outings. Anything that required a formal sit down meal I made an excuse that I had to work.
    Those outings that might include a snack bar were OK, but a dinner, forget about it.
    Whenever I took a girl out on a date we went for pizza or a burger.
    I was getting good at keeping my secret a secret.
    As I matured I could no longer compete in sports because I never developed very good muscle tone or great strenth. I knew it was my diet and lack of protein but still never changed.
    Somehow I managed to be a reasonably popular teen leader, not by being a jock but with fast cars and being someone that loved to fight.
    Now don’t get me wrong I wasn’t a good fighter but just someone that loved a good dance hall rumble.
    A nice black eye with a hot car always got the attention of the girls.
    I think this was compensation for the inadequacy I felt of not being a real man; after all how could I be? I was afraid of food.
    I never expected to live past 20.

    After High School my parents passed away from heart disease and alcoholism, and shortly thereafter was drafted by the US Army.
    This was truly to be my biggest challenge and I never expected to come home.
    I got by eating a big breakfast, mostly cereal, pancakes, French toast and bacon, never ever eggs.
    Evenings were spent at the PX with pretzels, burgers and beer.
    Eventually I wound up in Vietnam, way out in the bush eating C-Ration crackers and candy bars.
    Once again surviving on breakfast with toast and bacon and coffee.
    Luckily I was on a Tank, which provided me great mobility and I would often buy loaves of some kind of local rice bread or similar treat in the villages.
    Through luck and attrition I made to the rank of Sergeant E-5, something I’ll always be proud of.
    When I look back, I fought, drank and caroused with the best of them but never once did I eat.
    I returned home 5 foot 11 inches nicely decorated and weighing a soaking wet 145 lbs.
    A broken nose and Vietnam had change my life and I never fought again; I turned to humor to engage friends and mostly the women.
    I made it past 20, and was getting pretty good at getting by.

    I married at 22 and really expected to change. For some reason I thought that when my new wife cooked me a meal suddenly it would all be magicaly different,
    She would help me change, I thought. Well it didn’t and I did try, She was confused.
    She knew I was different from our dating and all the meals I avoided at her mothers, sisters, and relatives house.
    I must have appeared very weird and unsociable, but I did have s secret to keep.
    When forced to the table as a guest, I learned slight of hand tricks where it seemed I was taking more food off the platter that I actually did.
    Now you see it, now you don’t, where did it go nobody knows? Extra napkins, large pockets, big socks and plenty booze got me through it.
    After all, real men have hearty appetites, don’t they?
    Eventually my wife gave in to me and started cooking the basic foods that I would eat and I then I got worse.
    We had 3 healthy eating children before I was 30. We had 2 boys and 1 girl. It was a little scary as 2 of them were a little picky at first but unlike their father they outgrew it. It was difficult for my wife cooking healthy for the kids and then of course another meal for me.
    I don’t know how, but I managed to make it to 30.

    In my 30’s I went to work and came home everyday. I avoided social gatherings and situations where there was any focus on eating.
    I loved to go to a bar with the boys and have a few belts and beers but when it came to the macho stuff of pickled pigs feet, eggs, clams on the half shell and stuff like that I was invisible. Other than softball I never played sports, fished, golf or any guy stuff like that. The only hobby I had was earning a living and providing for my family.
    My career suffered as I avoided the dinners at the boss’s home and any close in eating situation. A banquet or large caterer event was OK as I learned it was easy to complain about the food or cut of beef and that most folks didn’t eat it anyway. At weddings I was often was on the dance floor somehow missing the entire appetizer, soup , salad and main course. I was the life of the party, and a lot of fun to work with but never had any close male friends. I enjoyed the company of women and the less competitive nature of their work ethic.
    I was sharpening my saw and honing my skills of Stealth Eating.
    I actually made it to 40.

    At 42 we had had a fourth and last child, a girl who as I write is now 16. She is a sweet, gorgeous knockout, bright, good student, competitive cheerleader with her Dads sense of humor. I worry the humor is not the only thing she inherits from me. She is a better eater than me but still worry. I would consider her picky but thank God she is starting to change. I pray she keeps it up.
    I retired after 30 years with a company and was immediately hired at another at a higher level that I never seem to achieve where I was.
    Suddenly I was smarter and wiser. However the new organization was big on dinners at the executives’ homes. Oh boy was this a problem.
    How could I continually find excuses? Well I found one, called – ‘business trips”. I always seemed to find a crisis that had to be solved on site.
    I always managed to travel alone, so I didn’t have to eat with anyone. If I did go with a group, I always found an excuse to go back to the hotel alone and work, call home etc. Very very rarely did I eat in a social gathering. I didn’t stay with this company long and jumped ship to their competition for a hefty salary increase.
    The new company had some serious international travel requirements, but I didn’t worry – If I survived a year in VietNam, I can do this standing on my head.
    Well weeks in El Salvador, Hong Kong and Tokyo were all very challenging nutritionally. Thank god, but it seems wherever you go on this planet you can always find a McDonalds or Pizza Hut. How I never developed diabetes is beyond me. There once was a time in Hong Kong where I was really in a jam and could not get out of it.
    I was literally forced to represent my group at a fancy dinner and found myself with a tiny whole piglet on my plate as an appetizer of all things. Oh boy did I insult a lot of Chinese that night. This was a meal that even I, the master could not fake my way out of. Let face it while small; a whole baby piglet is too big to stuff in a napkin or my suit pocket. What a disaster; but when I look back, I have to laugh. After all, this would freak most normal people, but me, I was beyond freaked. I wasn’t even able to cut it or even push it around my plate. Tell me, where on a plate can you push a piglet? The travel eventually became too much for me, not because of the food, but I missed my daughter and family too much, there are something’s that money can’t buy.
    Hard to believe I was now I my 50’s and earned my Masters Degree in Evasive Eating.

    I’m now closing in on 58, with one child in the house and work in a small company where the money is good and it’s not too far a commute from home.
    My life’s biggest regret is that my wife has missed out on so much. We have had a good run but my eating condition has been detrimental to her. The kids can leave but she is stuck with me. I still have no hobbies nor what I would call male friends. I only have acquaintances or guys that I worked with in the past whom keep in contact but no one that will speak at my memorial. This dosen’t bother me, but when looking back, it does make me different. I don’t fool around but still do love the ladies. I’ll attend business award dinners and such but typically disappear after the cocktail hour.
    If the dinner is in a restaurant I’ll check out the menu online to see if I dare attend. (Never want to find an infant hog on my plate again).
    Unfortunately, I’m still the class clown and people notice my absence.
    My oldest daughter works here in the building for 3 years now and is doing very well for herself. I’m very proud of her.
    However she continues to worry about me, and what I’m doing for lunch.
    She is quite the normal eater and just doesn’t understand that food isn’t important to me.
    I’ll eat something when I’m hungry and never plan ahead. Sometimes I don’t eat.
    Her concern for me has led to conversations amongst her peers and now the whole darn office knows I’m a picky eater.
    I want to cringe and die when walking through the cafeteria for a cup of coffee some young kid will say “ Hey Jack, do you like chicken”?
    I’ve worked for years and years keeping this secret and now this well-intentioned loving daughter in one swoop she has blown my cover.
    I love seeing her every day but she has unintentionally has done me damage. There are no more corporate ladders for me too climb, but I do report to officers.
    Now they know way too much about me and eventually I will be seen as damaged goods. My eating habits are my problem and nobody else’s and it is something I don’t wish to discus with anyone other than on this web site. Setting my wonderful daughter up with an interview here was a tactical error on my part.

    I thought I was soooo good at getting by, I guess I got sloppy. I still wonder if I can possibly reach 60.

    So that’s my story and I’m sticking too it.
    Like Popeye, why I’ am what I’am is anyone’s guess. I have deep psychological theories where I spilled my guts on other Posts but I think I’ve wasted too much of your time. How I continue to remain healthy should be documented in Ripley’s or the New England Journal of Medicine
    If any manages to get through this blather I’ll be amazed.
    I did find this very therapeutic and it has made me think about things and particularly towards changing that I haven’t done in years.


  24. Claire Says:

    Hi Jack

    What an amazing story. I feel very moved by it, and privileged to have read it.

    I’m sorry to hear that your secret is out at work. This must be awful for you.

    On the other hand, getting sloppy may turn out to be a good thing. I find that’s exactly what’s helped me the most. You can’t change that they know, but you maybe can change what it means to you.

    We don’t actually know what causes this – until I talked to more people, I was convinced it was psychological too. But I am changing my view on that. And if it is not purely a pscyhological cause then we are no more damaged goods than someone who is, say, dyslexic. I prefer to think that we have a condition, not a neurosis.

    Could you tell them it’s physiological, like a food intolerance or allergies, and they really don’t need to make a big deal of it? Just thinking aloud what I would do in that situation.

    Anyway, thanks again for sharing. What an inspiration.

  25. Claire Says:

    ps – Hi Christi and Joe! – I didn’t see you there.

  26. Jack Says:

    Thank you for reading my story. I appologize for all the type-ohs and fat figering. I’m just so excited and thankful for this site I’m all over the place and not taking time to proof. Afer having all this guilt and shame bottled up for so many years it’s just flowing out.

    As for my cover being blown at work; it is what it is. As always, I will adjust and adapt or move on.

    I wish I could belive we have a physiologial condition
    but I think in my case it is burried deep in my noggin.

    Thank you again.

  27. Claire Says:

    “As always, I will adjust and adapt or move on.”

    I think this is very interesting. And revealing. I don’t know if it’s related to the picky thing, but a lot of my troubles in life have to do with having that exact same survival strategy. I don’t know about you, but it hasn’t made me happy. There are alternatives…(not that I’m good at them).

    Whether it’s physiological or not, if you tell people that it is, they might have less to say about it. That’s all I was thinking 🙂

  28. esther Says:

    i’m a 25 yr old fussy eater from wales. i really did think i was “the only one” what a revolation!i come from a loving family and childhood but was always the really fussy one, as other accounts ive read, not being able to leave the table until the -now cold- plate of casserole was eaten, trying not to gag until someone took pity on me and threw it away.

    think i actually got worse when i left for uni as suddenly i was responsible for my own cooking, and could eat what i like. i really want to change and “be normal” i just dont know how. all other area of my life are great and mostly i feel the food thing isnt a problem as all friends and family know about it and accomodate, but then it is a problem isnt it, otherwise they wouldnt need to.

    i have developed a system in social situations with people who “dont know” – i take my wonderful husband who with one fearful look in his direction can discretley start polishing off my meal as well as his to make my plate look a bit better before the dreaded “was there something wrong with your meal madam?” bless, he loves his food and id love for us to be able to go to lovely restaurants or chinease or somehere other than places that do chips. its so scary though, particularly going to someones elses home, even if they do know that your a bit fussy they dont usually realise how fussy! it becomes a huge deal, worrying about what is going to be served, will i be able to eat it, what happens if i cant etc (unthinkable sitauion if hubby cant come!)
    the other day i decided enough was enough, i was going to learn to eat a rasberry. i was alone, it took half and hour to eat one, i had to de-hair it first and then cover it with sugar and down liquid after. pathetic. its soooo embarassing, its not like we do this on purpose, or for fun is it, if we could change, we would. i cover my major embaressment with myself with humour and find going in first with new friends and making a big joke of it helps but i still think they must be thinkning its all attention seeking.

    for me its very much texture and fear of the unkown, i feel i have quite a skill in knowing what foods im not going to like without having to go to the effort of trying it (something which annoys most people – but how do you know unless you’ve tried it?) i think im taking the easy option too, i do all the cooking at home and make two seperate meals most evenings so i dont have to try. maybe i should go to a dessert island somewhwere where i have no choice – actually ive tried that we went to the maldieves on honeymoon which was amazing but the food situation was awfuil – i literally lived on bread and cheese as there was nothing else and even exrtreme hunger and alcohol couldn’t force me to try toher things – just cnat do it!

    however i want to be able to go somewhere without food being a massive deal, i desperately want to be “cured” before starting a family for fear of inflicting this sorry state on someone else.
    i have eaten cheese sandwiches on brown bread every day for lunch through promary school, secondary, uni and now work. actually i enjoy my cheese sandwiches, but still. i dont do pasta, rice, red meat, chinease, indian, vegis (except potatoes peas and carrots) fruit (except occassionally banana) anything with bits in (bitty bread, bitty yogurt, bitty fruit – you get the picture) anything slimy, fish (except fish fingers), only pizza when margarita, no nuts i could go on but we’re all in the same boat or else we wouldnt be reading.

    it’s really not all that bad but i really want to change now, for me as well as those around me, it would just make life much easier! wish there was a magic pill. amazing how easy it is to start rambling on and on – but theraputic i guess!

    so this is it, action time, somehow. nice to know other guys out there in same boat!


    • Tia Karlsen Says:

      Dear Esther,

      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. Claire has put out my request as an entry on its own, but I thought it might be more effective to contact people who I think will fit the article (which you do) directly. So: Growing up with 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 may 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’ve been having trouble finding anyone here in Norway who are selective enough with their food. You can contact me anytime (though preferably as soon as possible, as deadline is approaching), either by email at, or by calling me on (0047) 930 19 878.

  29. Marla Says:

    I’m a healthy, happy 48 year old “Super Selective Eater”….PLEASE email me at if you are anything like this — In 48 years, my entire diet consists of milk, crackers, cereal, bread, french fries, crispy (very) bacon, potatoe chips & popcorn. Absolutely, a social nightmare, but I’ve managed to thrive, have 2 healthy boys & run two successful businesses. Please email me if you’ve lived a similiar life — Oh, BTW, my 16 year old son is (unfortunately) just like me!! This has NEVER been a choice, just a nightmare we’ve managed to deal with…. Looking forward to hearing from others — We must have a big convention where we can all eat the same, and never say to one another “WHY AREN’T YOU EATING?”…. Take care! www.

  30. Claire Says:

    Hi Marla, and esther! I’m half-welsh myself. Wonder if we got it from a common ancestor… 🙂

  31. A-M Says:

    I have always been weird with food. Oddly, I am engaged to a man who also is, in fact, he is even more restricted than me! We didn’t meet at a picky eaters’ convention, it’s just luck.

    I have no idea where it stems from, as we had totally different upbringings. He ate whatever he liked, and I was forced to clear my plate. I am generally more open to trying new things than him, but I don’t like most of the things I try!

    It was especially hard in the summer when I was a kid, as I grew up in the UK, but most of my family were French so we went to stay everysummer. Food is a big deal there. And it all cmes in a sauce, which is one of my main issues. I can like every ingredient of a casserole, butstill not eat it because there’s a sauce. Plus I hate tomatoes in all forms, which people tend to struggle with. “What do you mean you don’t like pizza?” I thought saying I don’t like tomatoes would have covered this, but aparently not.

    In recent years I feel I am getting better, but I still don’t do sauces, tomatoes, and lots of other random things. Unlike many though, there is no food group I don’t eat, just items within them. In the last 2 years I have started to eat (and even enjoy) prawns, bananas, passion fruit, cheese that’s not edam, brown bread and brown rice! Still don’t understand why you would ever eat cream. It tastes like gone off milk!

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