October 27, 2014

I was a Picky Eater

Me and My SoldierMan I was a picky eater

I’ll give you a minute to compose yourself from this shocking revelation, because apparently being a picky eater as a child is the worst possible thing in the world a child could be.

I had a very limited palate as a kid. I didn’t like to eat anything that wasn’t white, yellow, or brown (beef and toast, specifically). Or pizza. Which was usually fine in my meat-and-potatoes home, although there were some passionate debates over green beans.

And yes, I heard all the Jeremiads about how bad it was to be a picky eater, although I can’t remember any of the reasons why. There probably weren’t any. Because allow me to let you in on humanity’s little secret: everyone is a picky eater. Everyone has that one thing they cannot eat under any circumstances.

My dad won’t eat spicy food. He considers black pepper spicy.
My husband won’t eat mushrooms. Or anything made with canned cream of mushroom soup. And yes, he can tell if I use it and lie to him that it’s just cream of chicken instead.
My friend won’t eat tomatoes in any form.
My mom won’t eat onions.
My brother will only eat vegetables that can be consumed raw.
My father-in-law can’t stomach red meat.
I don’t care how many marshmallows you throw on that sucker or even if you deep-fry it, I’m not eating a sweet potato.

Everyone has their “thing,” and there’s a reason beyond stubbornness: science. Studies are showing our food aversions are likely to be a genetic trait. Now, with repeated forced exposure, my friend might one day learn to tolerate, even enjoy, tomatoes.

But what’s the point?

So what if she never likes tomatoes? So what if my mother can never tolerate onions? So what if my father-in-law never develops a taste for red meat?

So what if someone doesn’t like exactly the same things I do the exact same way I like them? Is it really that big of a deal?

And yes, I’ve heard the whole, “Children need to learn the world won’t cater to their every whim.” And I have to ask, is the dinner menu really where they learn that? I mean, really? If you determine your child’s bedtime, make them do their homework when they’d rather play video games, and teach them bullying others is wrong, are they going to be undone by only eating macaroni and cheese for a while?

The funny thing is, I’m now the most adventurous eater in my family. I’ll try just about anything once (and probably anything, if you don’t tell me what it is until afterwards). 25 years ago I would only eat blue box mac and cheese and mashed potatoes and cheese pizza. As an adult, I’ve tried raw sushi, sautéed baby octopus, and even menudo. And that’s after smelling the menudo. And knowing what it’s made of.

But I still don’t like green beans.


  1. Amen and Amen! I was a very picky eater as a child and am still somewhat of a picky eater. But I will try anything at least once now and I am a much more adventurous eater as an adult.

    PS. I agree w/ Soldierman about mushrooms. Yuck! (And I have tried them as an adult and still dislike them)

  2. :) Did you read my new blog post? That's a good link on taste that I'd been looking for. The word "taste" itself is incomplete, as that article demonstrates. Almost every single one of the aversions your family has are texture related. And just like there's a category of people who are genetic "super tasters" (they have more than average numbers of fungiform papillae"), I don't think we'd be going too far that there are likely people who are super sensitive to texture. Autistic kids really struggle with this. It's not merely a matter of what your receptors are detecting, it's how your brain processes the data that matters just as much.

    That being said, per my post today, if we as Christians know that our spiritual appetites need to be trained for our spiritual maturity, then I do think there's an argument to be made that that can be translated physically as well. The rule at our house is "you don't have to like it, but you do have to eat it". I don't know what contexts my kids will grow up and be adults in. Helping them learn to receive anything they're eaten with grace and thankfulness (for the intent, if not the result) is a pretty big deal. *But*, more important that my kids grown up receiving God's spiritual food with thanks. If they end up living on cheetos and Dr. Pepper and Jesus (not in that order) I'll be okay with it, and God'll fix their bodies in heaven. :)

  3. LOVE it. I was a picky eater, too, until a few years ago. I grew out of it. I get grief, because I will sometimes prepare dinner in a way to ensure everyone will eat. Not all the time, but hell, if putting butter on my kid's spaghetti instead of tomato sauce gets him to eat it instead of piss and moan at me, then so be it. It's not that hard, and he's still having to eat spaghetti. (Plus, I can relate, because I preferred my noodles with butter instead of sauce when I was little, too).

    If we're having tacos, sometimes I'll make theirs into quesadillas instead. Or I might make them grilled cheese instead of BLTs, but really that has more to do with the fact that I don't want to share my bacon with toddlers. They know I don't do it all the time, and some nights I tell them "tough cookies, you're eating what I make", they suck it up, take their "no thank you" bites and we all go on with our evening.

  4. I was always a picky eater until I met Kyle. He coaxed me into trying things that I never would have looked twice at before.

  5. I have always been and still am the pickiest eater ever. I did a blog post a few years ago about it because my coworkers think it is so funny!


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