Adult Picky Eaters UK

For Picky-Eating Adults in the UK and worldwide

Liking New Things – How It Starts February 10, 2007

Filed under: Personal Stories,Reducing Pickiness — Claire @ 10:34 pm

As I’ve stated elsewhere, my picky eating has improved slightly over the years, and I can now eat and enjoy some things that I truly did not count as food for twenty or thirty years, and which I would rather have died or cried than go near.

In thinking about this, I notice that it tends to happen one of three ways:

The first is that it is a food or food substance that is served in, with or on one of my few staples and which, despite one’s best efforts, is difficult or impossible to remove entirely.  In this situation, I found I got used to the homeopathic amount of said foodstuff remaining post-excavation.  Being picky, I could probably have detected ketchup in a concentration of one part in a hundred billion.  But you get used to it, because inevitably (or not, depending on one’s sensitivity to peer pressure) there will be social situations where one can’t avoid it entirely.  And then I started to find that I missed it when it wasn’t there, and that I wished there was more when it was there.  Ditto for mayonnaise.  Ditto for fresh cream.

I suspect this route to liking hasn’t worked for HP Sauce or Branston Pickle (still never tried either), because they are far less ubiquitous and very easy to avoid.  Raisins in scones haven’t yielded success for me either, for the same reasons.

The second way I’ve found I’ve started liking things is in a revelation, when people who know my pickiness recommend something to me, and this has given me the confidence to try.  Foods in this category include bagels and candy floss, both of which I loved instantly, and couldn’t believe I’d needlessly avoided them for so long.  Both of those however, do fall into broader food groups (breads and confectionery) of which I could already eat other items.  I’m not sure how it could ever happen with a fruit or vegtable.

And finally, there are other foods which I’ve forced myself to eat on one or two occasions because of social pressure.  A minority of these I’ve found myself not feeling too repulsed by to ever go near again.  What I find with these types of experiences, is that the first thing I learn is that I did manage to eat it once, and from this I then know, if ever I have to eat it again, that I am actually capable, even if only just.  Your feeling as to how likely it is to make you gag is then informed by actual experience, rather than instinct.  And as I try the food again in my own time, in small amounts, I start to get the feeling that even though I don’t like it myself, I can begin to understand how other people could like them.  In this category, I would place smoked salmon.  In that instance, the understanding how other people could like it then developed into an actual liking of my own. 

I am hoping this is now going to happen with spicy foods, of which I have only four experiences.  The first was entirely accidental and unexpected, with some sort of treacherous sauce in a restaurant, at 14, on a “date”.  I decided from that experience “Never again. Never ever again”.  But then when the second encounter arose three years ago, which was an authentic curry cooked by some lovely Indian friends, I did know from experience that I could manage it.  And so I was able to weigh up the equation between the unpleasantness of the experience for me, and my desire to fit in and share and not offend them.  And I did manage it.

And then I was in a restaurant and the only thing I could order from the menu was jerk chicken.  How spicy could it be? I asked myself.  At the end of the day, it’s just chicken.  And that’s what I convinced myself, and actually, it wasn’t entirely unpleasant.  In fact, I think I’d order it again, just to see.  I wouldn’t say I actually like it, but I’m beginning to get a feeling of how other people do like it, and I’m thinking that is probably a good sign.

So this is just a few thoughts on how I’ve managed to improve.  If you’ve got experiences you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them.


8 Responses to “Liking New Things – How It Starts”

  1. shirley Says:

    Found your comments amazing! I did not think there could be someone else experiencing the same feelings about food as my 22 year old son. I’ve felt so guilty over the years that it was my fault he became a picky eater, and hoped one day he’d grow out of it! His eating preferences have changed the years, but he still finds social eating difficult. I can’t wait to pass on this website to him and hope it can help. Thanks

  2. Claire Says:

    Hi Shirley!
    Good to see you. It’s great to find others in a similar position, especially after most of us always thought we were the only one. Hope your son makes it over here at some point.

  3. kraygk Says:

    In my own house, in my own hometown avoiding foods was not so difficult. I knew what restraunts served nothing I could eat, and which I could find a few choices. But moving out and slowly coming to places with friends where the sudden realization that every single thing on the menus has some sort of horrible offensive food has slowly gotten me out of the woodwork.

    Granted I will basicly suck it up and try to just stomach as much I humanly can, what really got me over some humps was incorperating some foods I do like (as in 99% of the dish) with some I dislike. Completely detested foods need not apply.

    Also I realized what it is about some foods I just cant stand. In some cases its complete food groups (as in veggies) Since I realize its that crunch and sudden burst and bitter juice that I dispise in Vegetables, I realized cooking it to death in some sort of sauce (which I can eat) Disguised the bitter juice and eleminated the crunch. From there I went from less sauce and slightly less cooking… I’m no where near raw veggies, but a slight crunch is somewhat bearable.

    I’m happy to stumble on this site, for years I often thought I was the most picky eater in the world. (I’ve come across some rather picky people but no where close to my level) But here I feel like, I’m not only just one of many but I’m not even the worst! I can eat…a fair bit of fruits though I don’t really enjoy it, Almost all raw veggies are out of the question, most condiments particularily mayonnaise, Pickles for me are the most detested food on the planet I wont even let it go near me, let alone people who have recently consumed it near me. It was so bad even foods that had touched offending foods were off limits but I find myself becoming more eccepting of the scrappign off method.

    While some don’t mind letting this trend continue forever, I hope one day I’ll slowly come to enjoy more vegetables. Though I think it will be a cold day in hell before I ever let a pickle touch me, or eat mayannaise willingly.

  4. Claire Says:

    Hi kraygk
    I love your post! And I think you’re right, incorporating foods you do like with foods you don’t, in a ratio of 99:1 is a really good method. Ditto for focussing on what it is about detested foods that makes us detest them.
    Thanks for posting!

  5. Mel Says:

    The veggie thing I completely agree. I refer to it as a “juicy crunch”. It immediately makes me gag. Although I too have tried the cook to death method and I can’t get over the taste either even if masked in something I like. My friend’s always laugh about my pickle problem, I can’t even stand to be around them at the table. If the smell is strong enough my gag reflex kicks in. That’s so funny that you despise those as well!

    I find it very interesting that so many of us seem to have the same problem foods.

  6. Test Says:



  7. plain Says:

    I don’t have a problem with crunch per se, but I can’t stand most vegetables. Very few are palatable to me and only carrots and broccoli taste good to me. My main life-long horror is white sauces, or white goopy anything. Over the years I’ve gotten better about it, I no longer gag when I see (ew ew ew) mayonnaise or the like, but it’s very difficult to watch someone else eating it. I usually focus at a point beyond my dinner companion’s shoulder to avoid watching them eat.

    That said, one of the most important factors for me to incorporate new foods or foods prepared in different way is psychological. If I’m eating with someone who I know is completely intolerant or impatient with my pickyness, then I tend to stick very closely with “safe” foods that I know I like. I’m much, much more likely to at least consider trying something new if I’m eating with someone I’m completely comfortable with, or if it’s prepared by someone I trust.

    I hate it (hate it!) when some well-meaning friend tries to “sneak” an ingredient in thinking that I won’t notice, and will be tricked into discovering that in fact I love something that I thought I hated. The thing is, I *will* notice it. I taste *everything*. So, I’d much rather knowingly choose something to try when I’m relaxed.

  8. Jack Says:


    It sounds like you have made some significant improvement over the years. This is good; keep plugging away. I wish I had some positive experiences to share but I don’t. What I can say is to not give up and to keep trying – and don’t wind up like me.
    Giving up or not trying to change is a downward spiral.

    Over the years I have seemed to have given up and even regressed. My diet consists of the same things from week to week and rarely varies.
    This is not good, I know it but at this age won’t change.

    The comments from Mel about cooking veggies to death brought back memories. I also use to cook carrots till they were mush. Although I feed our bunny carrots regular, I haven’t had one in probably 15 years.

    Like Mel, The ‘juicy crunch” of veggies gets to me. Needless to say pickles are forbidden and when in a restaurant it’s the first thing to come off the plate.
    Just as Plain writes the white sauce’s scare me. Why a meatless red sauce is OK, Freud would have to determine.

    I’m also bummed when well-intentioned friends will try to sneak seasoning or change a recipe just “to help me”. I appreciate the thought but please leave me alone. I do believe that from years of eating a plain bland diet my system is over sensitive to the slightest change be it seasoning or whatever.
    Is there anything worse than when a well-intentioned friend or family member prepares a dinner, “special for you’? Oh God, I want to dig a hole and burry myself. I just want to sit at the table and be normal. No comments, no fuss, no problem.
    Please don’t ask me, do I enjoy it? I don’t want to appear rude but food just isn’t that important to me.
    I understand that normal people take great joy in preparing food for normal guests. I’m just not normal; forget me. 99% of the time, these “special dinners” are awful (in my opinion), and it takes large pockets and a large volume of alcohol to get me though the meal.

    Thanks for this site.

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