Adult Picky Eaters UK

For Picky-Eating Adults in the UK and worldwide

How has being a picky eater affected you? November 14, 2006

Filed under: General,Personal Stories — novegthanks @ 1:14 pm

I imagine there are quite a few people who’ve spent a good many years dealing with picky eating day in and day out. If you’re like me, there are some days when you almost forget about it and there are other days when you’re really wound up about the whole issue and fervently wish you had a solution. So given that it does have such a big influence on your daily life, what impact has it had?

In my case I used to be quite timid and fairly introverted right through childhood and adolescence. I got much worse in early adulthood, especially as I became more exposed to the difficulties of eating in public. While I was doing OK in my professional life, I knew I was going to struggle to be successful if something didn’t change.

Around my 30th birthday I decided to make some changes and start dealing with my issues. I knew there was no chance my eating habits were going to change, so I had to begin accepting that and working out a way forward. My marriage came to an end as I switched focus and that further forced me to take control of my life. I developed a strategy for eating out that I could live with and pretty much decided to avoid social eating at people’s homes wherever possible. From there I managed to gain a lot more confidence, to the point that I really felt like I had this under control.

Subsequently I have managed to make a reasonable success of my career, but I often think if I hadn’t made a conscious decision to stop my food phobia controlling me, I doubt it would’ve been quite the same story.

Does anybody else have an experience along the same lines?


PS Thanks for sharing the blog Claire! 


13 Responses to “How has being a picky eater affected you?”

  1. Bennie Says:

    Hello Clare & Phil my story is very similar to this as I was finding it harder to deal with in my teens and twenty’s and then I just started telling everyone I had a food fetish and we got it out in the open and now nobody cares least of all me. Since then I managed to find a really nice and very supportive wife and I’ve got a couple of promotions so I’m doing okay now I say.

    Bennie Zacharias, Cardiff

  2. Claire Says:

    Hi Bennie! I’m half-welsh, my mother’s family were from Cardiff. Small world. I’m glad you’ve had such a positive outcome. I found getting it out in the open was the only alternative for me – I just couldn’t put myself through trying to hide it. I’m not really sure what other people think of me because of my eating, but I don’t give that much thought to it really, because the alternative is not that appetising to me. Having said that, I’m at an academic conference at the minute, which will involve social/professional/formal eating – in the past, I have tried to hide it, or at least minimise it the best I can, just on instinct of how I imagine the truth would go down. But this time, I won’t be doing that, because, thanks to Bob, I know I’m not alone, it’s an actual thing that other people have, and if people don’t know about it, I don’t any longer feel that that makes it less ok. So if you’re reading this, thanks Bob!

  3. Claire Says:

    ps, Thanks for joining in Phil! (and Bennie)

  4. Bonnie Erickson Says:

    Hello Everyone,

    I have been a picky eater ever since I can remember. I have often asked my mother if she knows when it started and she doesn’t really recall. I am in my mid 40s and my diet consists of meats (turkey, beef, chicken and pork) assuming they are cooked pretty blandly, potatoes (mashed and fried), chocolate (most kinds), fruits (watermellon, cantelope and apples) and white bread. I eat absolutely no vegtables of any sort unless you count potatoes.

    I made a decision about a year ago to try and face this issue and try and get some help. As I am sure many of you have experienced it is next to impossible to explain it and have anyone understand. I mostly decided to try and get help because it sometimes feels like it is destroying my life. Only my closest friends and family know about it. If I try to tell someone else about it they are either so curious it becomes the main topic of conversation or they just think I am being unreasonable and tell me it is all in my head. I first told my regular doctor who suggested that perhaps therapy might be an answer. That led me to a therapist who suggested I contact an eating disorders institute. I was told there that this was not a disorder and they only dealt with anorexia. They suggested that I might be a candidate for the Binge Eating Disorder program. After being diagnosed with this disorder I have just finished six months of treatment. Although I did not learn to eat many more foods thorough this process I beleive my picky eating, or discrimation eating as my therapist tells me to thikn of it as, I beleive the two issues are realted. I think I binge on the foods I will eat because I think I may not see them again. I then get really sick of eating them and they will come off the list of foods I will eat either forever or I may eat them again in the future. That is another really scarey thing about this-the list of foods I will eat continues to shrink and nothing new is added.

    I am overweight and dieting is almost impossible because of my limited diet. The thought of going to lunch with coworkers sends me into high anxiety because sometimes I know there will not be a single thing on the menu that I can eat. I feel bad for my friends because we can’t go to different restaurants due to my eating.

    I have no idea what caused this or how to fix it. A lot of days everything is fine and other days are pure torture.

    It is a huge relief to know there are others out there like me-I spent most of my life thinking that I was the only one.

    Thanks for listening!

  5. Brian Says:

    Hi Bonnie

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts… I think we Picky eaters find it difficult to share are thoughts sometimes because we don’t know how we will be received… its nice to have a place to share and not be judged.

    Why not suggest to your friends to pick a different restaurant every once in a while… and maybe you just eat before you go because isn’t it more important that you are all hanging out together rather than what restaurant you’re at… just sit there with a drink if you have too… at least you’re there.

  6. Claire Says:

    Hi Bonnie, it’s good to hear your story. I think most of us spent our lives thinking we were the only one – it’s so great to know that we’re not alone.

    I often eat before I go to a meal with other people, especially if it is at someone’s house, just in case. Although I have often been pleasantly surprised that restaurants I didn’t think would have anything for me actually do have stuff I can eat. Also, I sometimes carry a snack with me, especially when visiting people, to be consumed in secret, should the need arise (eg it is not good to drink alcohol on an empty stomach).

  7. Mel Says:

    Good point Claire about the snacks! I carry a snacks myself because of those situations. I’ve made the drinking on an empty stomach mistake too many times! I’m really into those Nature Valley granola bars. A, because I like things that are crunchy (I don’t care for most granola bars because they’re soft), they taste like extra crunchy toast to me and, B, because they’re easy to have on hand in your purse. I love peanut butter so I get that kind. They are really good in the fact that it has protien and complex carbs which are good for people like us who stick to the white breads. I’d recommend trying them if they carry them in the UK. I’m not sure if they do or not.

    Take care all!


  8. Claire Says:

    I don’t exactly know what granola is, though I think we do have it here. I do know I couldn’t possibly eat it though 🙂 A shame really, as they sound good!

  9. Gingersnap Says:

    I’m really enjoying this site. Picky eating is pretty much a conversation killer with everybody else!

    In reading many of the stories and observations here, it’s clear to me that we all experience picky eating differently. I can see that I’m very lucky, not because I can eat anything interesting but because I have a good deal of control over this area of my life.

    Having been married for years and years and doing a lot of entertaining, I know how to make a lot of foods that other people like but which I won’t eat. However, there is always something that I enjoy. I now have enough confidence to simply avoid food I don’t like in my own home. I don’t “fake it” anymore at my own table. People seem to accept this since they are eating what they like.

    I usually take my own lunch to work. When I eat out with coworkers, there is usally something I can eat (even if it comes off the kid’s menu). I don’t cave in to the “try this” stuff anymore. Really, if I wanted to try it, I would have ordered it. Teasing me or using peer pressure isn’t helpful.

    I try to eat a little something before a meal in someone’s home. Usually there is at least one item I like. I try very hard to let the cook know that I appreciate what I can eat and I never mention what I can’t eat. Or why.

    It’s easy to think of some negative things about being a picky eater but I think there can be some positive things to it (not preferable, but positive). We aren’t spending money on fad foods. We aren’t spending much time seeking after novelty in food. We probably have to learn to be a little more confident because refusing or avoiding food is such a huge deal in our culture. It’s a stupid deal, in my opinion, but it’s huge.

  10. Claire Says:

    Hi Ginger
    Glad you’re enjoying the site. It’s interesting to hear your story too, though I wonder why you never mention why you can’t eat the things you can’t eat. Also, you make some very good points about acknowledging the positive aspects of pickiness. Though I personally do have to spend perhaps more time and effort than non-picky eaters seeking after novelty in food. Still, I like your angle

  11. MsSadie Says:

    It is fantastic to read these things – I only recently discovered the growing awareness of SED.

    Claire: I saw myself in your post, thank you for your honesty. However, I myself CANNOT avoid social eating in my career – it’s too much of a big part of it. My colleagues have been really at me about it. The consensus seems to be that I am acting like a rude and finicky small child. To me the comments to and about me feel like harassment and I have lately been dreading going to work. Even if I tried to explain to my colleagues that it’s more of a disorder than just me being a princess, it’s still going to be awkward at larger professional lunches and dinners, and I’d rather continue to go to these. I don’t know what my point is except to actually say this. I’m finally (after all these years) going to try to find a professional to help me out with this. Thanks for listening.

  12. Lurleen Says:

    Hi everyone,

    I am not an extreme case. I can generally get by in restaurants because you have a menu to choose from and you can usually find a nice safe steak or something. Of course, eating at people’s houses is much harder because there’s only one thing to eat and your friend made it.

    I like meat, chocolate, chips, sushi and pasta the best. Fish, most vegetables and eggs are ok. My problem tends to be with fruit, sauces and salads. I don’t like to mix foods either. I know that my problem is psychological because my reasons for ‘not liking’ foods are irrational. I do not dislike apples as such, but I hate the idea of them. I wonder if any of you have the same experience, I hate to say the words ‘fruit’ and ‘apple’, it turns my stomach.

    I sometimes reveal my food problem to people if the need arises or the conversation is going that way. Some people are great about it and can see how someone might have food issues but some people are not at all understanding. I told my friend that I didn’t want tomatoes or dressing on my salad and I got called a pain in the arse. I know that my friend just doesn’t realise how difficult it is for me to eat some things and that they were not to be taken too seriously but I still took it very hard. I felt as though I was transported back to an incident in my early childhood when I was forced to sit at a school canteen table in front of a plate of red beetroot while all the other children were allowed to go out and play. I had to work hard to fight back the tears.

    I have gotten better in the last five years. I have now become partial to a few sauces including ketchup and mayonnaise (I think I’ll do mustard next) and a few more fruits have entered my diet. The way I try new foods is to go and buy it by myself, take it home and eat it by myself, slowly. I never eat the whole portion the first time round, that might happen the third or fourth time I buy it.

    I think it is not at all surprising that so many adults have problems with food. So many emotions and memories are attached to food and eating is such a personal thing. I know somebody who has selective mutism, (where they only talk to a few people, usually in their family and don’t talk at all to any one else) and I can really sympathise. Talking is another personal, basic thing in life and it’s easy to see how past experiences might make it difficult to talk. It makes me angry when people are critical of fussy eaters because we all have hang-ups about something. The same person who ridicules you for not eating, say, fish, might find it really hard to be in a public swimming pool or to put their hand up in class.

    I will continue to try new foods because I think it’s important for physical health and social interaction. I am fed up of dreading the dinner table when I go out and it is such a good feeling when you ‘conquer’ a new food and can casually pick it up and eat it in public.

    Great to read all your posts, thanks for reading,


  13. Emz Says:

    thank u all for opening up about all this.
    i myself am a fussy eater. i dont eat any (and thats ANY, i.e. not a single one like my freinds and family seem to insist on asking ‘ok but what about carrots?’ and ‘what, not even peas?’ what part of not one do they not understand??) veg or salad but can just about manage green apples and green grapes, but at a price, the two only vitamin filled edibles i can eat unfortunatley give me a slight allergic reaction, similar to hayfever ( which i am also a severe sufferer but have recently found out the there is a link between them!!). but sometimes i just suffer through as i do enjoy apples (they do have to be granny smiths though and absolutely NO red apples or grapes), or any other fruit for that matter.
    i do think it is mostly due to texture for me. i do try things, like i managed to try a carrot on my sunday dinner a few weeks ago but i just dont see the point in having something on your plate that doesnt really taste of anything but feels disgusting, why put yourself through it?? id rather have more of what i do like, more mash , or roasties thank you very much.
    and it is difficult when eating around others houses, as you dont want to seem rude but sometimes its difficult to disguise a whole meal in to a little pile to make it look like you have eaten some but saying you dont like it people just dont understand. its almost like your being rude but your not.
    and these people who say ‘its in our heads’, yes it is and my head is telling me i dont like this horrid mush in my mouth, get it out!!!
    the worst thing for me is onions, they seem to be in EVERYTHING. i cant even stomach little tiny itty bity peices, if it says it has onion then its not for me. as claire said before, the big chunky peices r passable as you can pick them out but when you end up with a little pile of disgarded onions on the side of your plate then it seems to become a talking point, or sniggering and shaking of heads which i find really embarassing.
    i just wish people would leave us to eat our plain textureless meals in peice. if i enjoy eating it then what harm am i doin to anyone else??

    i will keep trying and disliking things and now feel a lot better in the knowledge that there is other people like this. and i also now like the selective eating disorder label. yes im selective, i select the foods i like and there is no room for anything else!!

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