Adult Picky Eaters UK

For Picky-Eating Adults in the UK and worldwide

Bad Candy – When Confectionery Isn’t February 4, 2011

Filed under: adult picky eating,Chocolate,General — Claire @ 9:13 pm

When you’re weary, feeling small, or indeed at any time at all, confectionery is a good thing, right?  Wrong.  Or, more precisely, it depends.  It can’t be good when it’s bad.  So I’d like to dedicate this post to Bad Candy – you know the stuff, people act like it’s meant to be nice.  But it’s not.

I’ve put together a little gallery of the Least Wanted, which ranges from the humdrum to the profane. Let me know if I’ve missed any out.


Operation Fruitalicious Part II: Orange November 4, 2008

Filed under: adult picky eating,Personal Stories,Reducing Pickiness — Claire @ 2:55 am

They say that oranges are not the only fruit, and I’ve got to say thank heavens for that. I did not enjoy my orange encounter. In fact, after this, that apple I tried seems positively delicious. I drew a line under the orange about an hour ago. Thinking about it still makes me nauseous. Let me tell you about it.

Remember my orange? Here she is:


So far, so innocuous. Now, I wasn’t sure how to approach the eating of this thing.  I seem to remember at netball matches they used to hand out sort of slices to you at half-time.  I always declined.  And I also seem to remember people at school peeling the things and eating the segments.  I decided to go for the latter.  I’m perfectly au fait with orange juice (no bits), so sucking the juice out and throwing the rest away seemed like it would be a cop-out.  Normal people can chomp their way through one of these babies, so that’s what I want to aim for. 

It took me about 20 minutes to peel the thing.  This is not an easy job, in fact it’s fairly painstaking, because I didn’t want to accidentally hurt any of the segments.  Plus the stuff inside the actual orange-peel part, that is a devil to get off.  On top of this, it is also vaguely a messy job.  Still, the smell is pleasant, and you feel quite authentic, like a real fruit-eater, while doing this part.  I got there in the end:


The next job was also quite tricky. Whatever happened to “tap and unwrap”? It’s not like a chocolate orange at all! I really really didn’t want to break or burst any of the segments, but every time I tried to separate them, it threatened to happen. What I learned is that you just have to be bold. Eventually, I managed it.


Next, I chose one segment at random, peeled him off, and cut myself a little piece.


Because the segments are kind of sealed, and because orange juice is not a stranger to me, there was not much problem with putting this in my mouth. I also used what I learned from the apple, keeping it just at the front of my mouth. I still wanted to immediately spit it out, however. The thing that makes me gag on this seems to be different from when it happens with apple. It wasn’t the flavour, or the surface texture, more the structural tension of the thing.

In the trying of these things, when one stage is easy and fine, I feel I’ve got to take it to the next step. A piece of orange which is sealed on all sides bar one was relatively easy to just have in my mouth. So then I tried moving it around and exploring the feel of it. Not pleasant, and had to fight the gag reflex, but bearable. I did this with a few pieces, starting again each time the reflex overpowered me.

And then I went beyond the pale. The next piece, I tried biting into it while it was in my mouth. Ew, that was nasty. Like an upsetting organic explosion. It feels like you’re hurting someone. I had to fight to not throw up. I was so right about the structural tension. The resistance, and then the bursting of each membrane is just upsetting, and so detailed as you do it. I tried it a few times, to the eye-watering point of near-vomiting. The orange-juiciness aspect of doing this is actually perfectly pleasant, and I can suck the juice out. But then what you’re left with is like a fruit corpse, and an ugly mutilated one at that. That is the part that I cannot stomach. I was so near to throwing up, I knew I was on a knife-edge there, so I didn’t even bother trying to chew or swallow it.

Maybe next time.  I feel sick.



UPDATE:  I wasn’t very happy about being defeated by an orange.  So I just went back to it with a drink of water.  Determination is a wonderful thing.  I decided if I pretend it’s an aspirin, and don’t chew it, but just swig it back with some water, I’d be able to swallow at least a tiny bit.  I know it’s cheating, and I had to concentrate very hard, and it took me 3 attempts, but I’m pleased to report that I managed it in the end.  I think it’s important in terms of preparing for the next time, to get as much orange-experience under my belt as I possibly can.  Perhaps I’m optimistic, but I envisage it getting easier with experience.


Operation Fruitalicious Part I: Apple November 1, 2008

Filed under: adult picky eating,Personal Stories,Reducing Pickiness — Claire @ 12:26 am

“Apple” is a nice word, isn’t it? It mek you feel happy when you see it. I don’t know if it’s a nice food item though. Until today I never even tried one. Until today.

Yes dear reader, I have achieved Part I of Operation Fruitalicious (II and III to follow, god willing). Here’s how I did it (do try this at home, boys and girls):

Step one is to obtain your chosen fruit item – in my case, an apple, a pear and an orange. I managed this by attending my local market, and requesting said items from the marketeer. It cost less than a pound. I’d say that was pretty good value, as life-changing experiences go.

As you can see, this is to be an illustrated post. I’m very happy to concede that a fruit’n’veg stall in a market is an aesthetically pleasing thing, as the image below will hopefully confirm. If you are like me though, none of the items for sale (barring potatoes) actually count as edible, never mind desirable. As such, however, approaching a fruit and veg stall is perfectly non-traumatic. Since I rarely have cause to do so, in fact, it’s actually a bit of a novelty. All the more so when one is actually to make a purchase. So far, so exciting.

I chose a Royal Gala apple, a Conference pear, and a generic Orange.  Having procured the necessary equipment, the next step is to take your purchases home, to the comfort and safety of your own surroundings, and get a feel for them.

The next step is to place your item(s) on a plate, just as if they were food. This too, I found easy and fun, because of course they’re not food, they’re just artistic objects:

Now then, this is the point at which the fun begins. I decided to take things one step at a time and start with the apple. If it’s good enough for Eve, it’s good enough for me. Now, my instinct is fairly strongly against any actual interaction with a fruit. But I’m perfectly capable of cutting things up, I tell myself. (Obviously, I have no intention to actually bite into the thing). So the next step is to select my favourite knife, and cut a side off this apple. I believe it’s ok to not eat the core, and also, I didn’t want to scare myself by assuming I was going to try and eat the whole thing. Like I said, this is just a getting-to-know-you exercise. So I didn’t cut it down the middle, I just cut off a nice little section from one side. Even that looked daunting to me though, so I cut a smaller piece off it. Ok, so far, so good.

As a first move, I picked up that small piece nearest the front, and I licked it. I don’t mean that I just touched it with my tonge, I actually licked it, like you might lick a delicious ice-lolly. It was strange. On the one hand it was quite pleasant (it tastes just like an apple flavoured Opal Fruit), but on the other hand, the sides of my tongue didn’t like it at all. Which is not to say that it tastes unpleasant (it doesn’t), but that when the sides of my tongue taste it, I start to get the inkling of a gag response – not uncontrollable by any means, but definitely there.

Still, I was emboldened by this little foray, and I decided to take the next step: To place some apple in my actual mouth. To prepare for this, I knew I’d need to cut it up a lot smaller, like this:

Can you see that nice little triangle near the front? I picked him up and put him in my mouth. Now, what happened next was actually quite amazing to me. Most of the things I can’t eat, I’ve never actually tried. I’ve just always known instinctively that I didn’t want to eat them. Somewhere in the back of my mind was a vague feeling that it would make me gag, but since 90% of my inedibles have never been put to the test, I suppose on some level I didn’t really believe it would happen. Which is silly, really. When I’ve had to force things down in a social setting, the gag reflex is the major problem. And the last time I tried a solitary tasting like this (with peas, 20 years ago), I didn’t get beyond the reflex. Very frustrating as I recall. So I shouldn’t have been, but I was, quite amazed at how quickly I had to spit it out, this tiny tiny piece of apple, and how I continued wretching and spluttering even after it was gone.

“Could have been a fluke”, I said to myself, and tried again. Same result. I have to say though, it’s very good doing this alone in the privacy of one’s own home. It is such a great relief to be able to freely and swiftly evacuate the offending food item, and to know that your reflex action won’t offend anyone else.

Still, I wasn’t prepared to give up that easy, so I kept repeating the attempt. What I found is that if I keep it in the very front of my mouth, it’s just about tolerable. It’s when you let it be in your mouth like any other food object would, that the sides of the mouth rebel into gagging territory. The thing that made me actually sick was when I thought I would just pretend it was food and try and chew it. That was a mistake. The result was immediate and uncontrollable. Fortunately I’d had the foresight to prepare the sink for in case of an emergency, and to stand beside it just in case.

“Ah well”, I thought, “At least I tried”.

Twenty minutes later though, I felt inspired to give it another go. I wondered what would happen if you dissociated the biting from the mouth-tolerance. And I found, not very much. I still felt sick, and I still had to fight the gag reflex, but I managed, using just the very front of my mouth, to bite several pieces in half (and take them out again, obviously).

It’s quite a feeling, biting apple, if you’ve never done it before, let me tell you. After a while, I decided I’d put myself through quite enough for one evening. Before giving up the ghost though, I took one last piece, and keeping it in the front of my mouth, I sort of chewed it, just at the very front. After a while it became a swallowable texture. Well, it’d be wrong not to, wouldn’t it? I swallowed it. No problem. A good note to end on, I figured.

It’s surprising how traumatic it is, though, just to manage this tiny victory. I didn’t feel afraid at any point (only the social context causes that), but I really felt like I needed comfort afterwards. I had to go and order a pizza straight away.

On the plus side, after tonight, I can now see how a person would love apples. If it weren’t for the gagging thing, I could definitely get to finding them delicious. If you could eat apples, I don’t see why you’d ever need to bother with a Mars Bar. I wouldn’t. You know all those people who say we’re missing out? They’re so right, and now I’ve had a taste of what I’m missing.

But I also think I’ve learned a few tips and tricks that I can apply on my next attempt. One: don’t rush it; Two: front of mouth only, to start with.

I don’t know what any of this tells us, but there it is: a full and frank account.

ps If anyone else tries this, I’d love to hear any similarities or differences in experience.


Thanksgiving October 13, 2008

Filed under: adult picky eating — Claire @ 11:11 pm

Being English, or shall I say, British, Thanksgiving is not a festival generally celebrated within my realm.  But I know that plenty of you reading this are from places that celebrate Thanksgiving, and that Thanksgiving in the context of being a picky eater can be a source of stress.

The closest analogy I can think of is with our own traditional family British Christmas dinner.  Turkey, stuffing, sausagemeat, bread sauce and oodles of various veg.  Myself, I eat my own personalised subset of this (aka turkey, potatoes and gravy), and I have to say it is probably my most favourite meal of the whole year.  I know that not everyone is this lucky.

But once that main course is over, that’s the end of the meal as far as I’m concerned.  Christmas pudding?  Christmas cake? They don’t count as food to me.  No way, no how.  To my mind, a Christmas dinner is a one-course meal, end of story.  My mother always asks me what she should get or make for me to have for pudding on Christmas day.  Now, while I do appreciate that, the thing is, there isn’t anything traditionally “Christmas” that I would be able to eat.  You could substitute with an everyday pudding that I love, but then it wouldn’t be Christmas dinner, would it? 

Which makes me sort of understand how people might feel at Thanksgiving (or Christmas) if there was nothing in the traditional cornucopia that they could eat.  These festivals are about ritual, and it just so happens that for “normal” people, the ritual foods happen to all be highly edible.  For many people with SED though, I think these occasions translate into a choice between satisfying one’s hunger, and participating in the ritual. These options are mutually exclusive.

So is it preferable to join in with these ritual foods but just not eat them, or to bring your own picnic so you can join in with the eating?  For me, it’s definitely the former.  It’s not so much about eating together, as about sitting round the table together, and the table must only have on it the traditional ritual foods.

But what of those of you who can’t eat turkey?  Is it better to substitute, or to not eat at all?


My New Favourite Chocolate October 10, 2008

Filed under: adult picky eating — Claire @ 9:15 pm

As regular readers might know, chocolate is a substance close to my heart.  I do not think I have lived a day since toddlerhood without eating chocolate in its solid form.  Certainly not in the last 20 years or so, anyway.  At 18 I was a ten-tubes-of-Smarties-a-day girl, having graduated from a ten-Creme-Eggs-a-day habit.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to give a great big shout-out to my new favourite chocolate.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Nestles Dairy Crunch:

I’m not sure why this has superseded my previous tip-of-the-top, cream-of-the-crop, chocolate of choice, the Milka Alpenmilch as my current chocolate du jour. 

It could be that Shakespeare was right when he wrote Sonnet 102.  It could be because I’ve overdone the Milka thing over the last few months.  When it’s got so you always have at least 3 giant bars of the stuff in your fridge, you start to get blase about it, you start to fancy something a little different.  Different chocolate, different texture. 

Now, I’m not altogether a fan of Nestle chocolate (apart from the Milky Bar of course, which doesn’t really count).  If Smarties weren’t glazed in sugar, I wouldn’t bother with ’em.  But the Dairy Crunch is the perfect texture for someone with a low texture-repetition threshhold like me, who’s had it up to the back teeth with manufactured high veg-fat, low cocoa-butter smooth and silkiness (don’t get me started on the Galaxy refurb). 

I’m also not a large fan of chocolate With Things In It.  Cadbury’s Fruit & Nut used to make want to cry as a child, being strictly a Dairy Milk lover.  But the Dairy Crunch just has rice-crispies in it, which are very benign, and which go with the chocolate very well, to my mind.

So that’s nailed my colours to the mast good and proper.  How about you?


Self-Help For Picky Eaters September 30, 2008

Filed under: adult picky eating,Reducing Pickiness — Claire @ 10:29 pm

I have had an idea about how we might be able to help ourselves. 

To this end, I would like to propose, in the first instance, a real-life gathering here in London for picky eaters (apologies to those too far afield for this to be feasible).  No-one will have to eat anything if they don’t want to.  The idea is just to meet up and talk.

UPDATE (16.11.08):  This event took place yesterday.  I’d call it a success. Many thanks to those who made it.

One of the ideas that came out of it was that it might be a good thing to have a regular time to meet up online.  Obviously, this would negate the problem of people being scattered all over the world (notwithstanding time-zone differences), or people having to travel, or being anxious about meeting in real life.  And it would mean we could chat in real time.  What do you reckon, should we organise it?


Catering for Fussy Eaters July 10, 2008

Filed under: adult picky eating — Claire @ 3:46 pm

I notice quite a few people are coming to this site by means of searching to find what foods to offer when catering for a fussy eater.  Which got me thinking as to whether there are any fail-safe universals on this score.

It seems to me we are a fairly diverse bunch, but I think there seem to be some basic rules of thumb.  For example, it seems to be that plain food is best.  The plainer the better, in fact.  This means plain and simple textures as well as plain and simple flavours. So that rules out strong flavours, and all things hot and spicy.  It also rules out things with bits in, or sauces on.  Especially bad is a dish where it isn’t visually obvious what’s in it.

For me personally, something bread- or pastry-based is good, as is most meat (though preferred if it’s plain, rather than sauce- or vegetable-mixed).  The main thing is to be able to avoid any vegetables and fruits, and any other unacceptable foods, and still leave something left on the plate.  So non-mixed things, or things which are easily separable are good.

I usually say to people that as long as there is bread or potatoes, I’ll be fine.  And then beyond that, I may or not be able to venture.  I would say the main most important rule is to not be having attention drawn to my eating (or avoiding), and to know that no-one is offended or surprised by whether and what I do or don’t eat.

What do other people think?  Are there any universally safe menu items we can all agree on?  Or any universally dangerous ones?