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Thread: Adult picky eaters...

  1. #1
    Senior Member mira's Avatar
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    Question Adult picky eaters...

    The thread on children who are picky eaters got me thinking about those who continue to be fussy throughout adulthood.

    How do you deal with adult picky eaters? Do you make special food for them or cater for their very specific tastes when you have them over to eat? Or do you just not invite these people??

    I know grown men and women who pick out tiny bits of onion and bell pepper from their food, or who just simply will not try any new food, however run-of-the-mill and 'unexotic' it may be.

    I once got so frustrated with a particular friend who was performing delicate pepper-removal surgery on some restaurant lasagna that I told her to stop it "start eating like an adult". Oops.

    I always wonder if these are genuine dislikes of food or if there's some kind of neuroticism behind it, and whether I should be more compassionate and accommodating.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bastelmutti's Avatar
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    I think there are definitely degrees of this. With my circle of adult friends, no one has a serious allergy, everyone has run-of-the-mill dislikes, and everyone has one or two of those "hate the taste so much, I might puke" foods. We generally accommodate the latter. I *cannot* eat caraway seeds. It literally feels like anything in my stomach is going to come back up when I taste them. A good friend feels that way about blue cheese and another about fish and mushrooms. Some people think cilantro tastes like soap. Other people can't handle spiciness, etc. So I just cook something else if they are coming over or leave that component to the side.

    With kids I'm more lenient & make plain rice or plain pasta with whatever we're having, or leave off spice and sauce on part of the meal so that everyone can eat something. But in any case I'm not in the "you'll eat what's on your plate or else" school of thought. I have seen with one of my own kids that this "pickiness" (certain food preferences) started when she was a baby, so I think some people just have really different ways of tasting things. Another site I read about adult picky eaters confirmed this for me. Many of these people had been traumatized as kids and forced to eat, which really resulted in some of the "neuroticism" you mention, so I try to take a balanced approach, make reasonable accommodations and try to make food and eating a pleasant and fun thing.

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    I just wonder who you think you are to complain about other adults likes and dislikes about food. Sometimes it is medical, sometimes it is due to past history, sometimes it is just taste or appearance. I have a friend who is seriously allergic to banana. Not a usual allergy and dangerous to her. How run of the mill is banana? Would you not believe her? A smiley face doesn't do it. Maybe you should just tell them to their face that you don't cater to anything special for anyone and if they don't like it please don't come.

    I absolutely hate, abhor, despise..... the taste of mustard and catsup. Period. Wont eat it. If you give me a hamburger with mustard on it, I wont eat it or scrape it off. I was forced as a child to eat it and it has become a lifelong dislike. Would rather go without. I don't like olives and will pick them out. Really dislike the taste of red peppers in my food and, if large pieces, will set them aside. However, I eat most anything else (love liver) and love ethnic foods. Enjoy sushi and spent months in India and Thailand eating only local food.

    I don't tell people what to make but do let them know that mustard and olives are not liked if they ask. My husband wont eat any meat from four legged animals and makes do with everything else if someone make a meatloaf or serves steak or roast. He does not make a fuss and certainly won't starve. Our friends so not serve him such meat and will give him chicken or just give him a nice plate of the side dishes.

  4. #4
    Senior Member mira's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetana3 View Post
    I have a friend who is seriously allergic to banana. Not a usual allergy and dangerous to her. How run of the mill is banana? Would you not believe her? A smiley face doesn't do it.
    What? If they have an allergy, serious dislike or don't eat something for moral/religious reasons, that's completely different. "Picky eating" does not encompass these things.

    Maybe I didn't make myself clear. Sometimes I can't tell if someone has a genuine dislike of something or if they're just too afraid to re-try things they didn't like when they were children. I'm talking about people who dislike so many commonplace ingredients that it makes them difficult to cater for. Onions, pasta, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, sauces of any kind, bread, etc. Sometimes it just seems a little too dramatic and unnecessary.

    Everyone has dislikes when it comes to food, but then there are those who are supremely fussy for what seems like no particular reason. Everyone's made differently. Maybe I just have to accept that some people have taste-buds that tolerate fewer flavours or textures or whatever it may be.
    Last edited by mira; 4-4-12 at 11:22am.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bastelmutti's Avatar
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    Well, as far as re-trying goes - I have re-tried celery many times and still don't like it. I guess some people just have more capacity for actually chewing and swallowing foods they don't like than others.

    If I had a guest who had that many issues, I think I would just host a potluck or say grill & have guests bring side dishes, which would allow them to bring at least one dish they like and can eat.

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    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    If I know about a preference, I will either make a dish without that ingredient or serve that ingredient on the side- like blue cheese for one of my friends. I usually have a variety of dishes when I have people over, so if there is an aversion, there are always other things to eat.

    I did have one relative on my husband's side who was picky in the sense you mentioned. If her mother didn't make it for her a kid, she wasn't ever going to try it (and she's in her 60s now). She would just make such a dramatic face and be so obviously pained. Even in restaurants, it was a joke to her husband that she couldn't relax until she saw a ham and cheese sandwich on the menu. She just KNEW she wasn't going to like it. She did not have allergies (I asked). It wasn't that she tried it once and knew she didn't like it, she just never tried it and was convinced it was awful. Even if I served something with ingredients I knew she has eaten, but prepared them or arranged them in a different manner, she would have that panicked face. The only way to really cope was to see this as a TV sitcom.

  7. #7
    Moderator Float On's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bastelmutti View Post
    Some people think cilantro tastes like soap.
    I'm one of those people. I wish I knew what it tasted like to people who like it. I always have to ask my favorite mexican restaurant to make me a fresh batch of their yummy salsa without the cilantro but extra hot. They know me by now and don't mind because we eat there so often (and tip good).

    I always tell people that invite us to dinner that my husband doesn't eat pork but is happy with just sides if that is what they have planned.

    Mira - I know the kind of people you are talking about and it can get annoying. I completely gave up eatting out with one friend because she was so picky about little things she didn't like that it became embarrassing. And she acted like we were the stupid ones for eatting whatever it was she was making a big show out of removing from her food.

    I have developed a strange allergy to styrofoam. I can't eat or drink any food that is touching it. Just yesterday a sweet friend had them remake my sandwich at chic-fil-a because it now is served in a styrofoam box, I had run out to the car to get my waterbottle because they had nothing for drinks other than styrofoam cups, so I didn't even know about the sandwich until later. When you have allergies it's nice to have friends who look out for you.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    I guess what you mean by picky is how Meg Ryan portrayed it in that wonderful diner scene in "When Harry Met Sally." Billy Crystal rolled his eyes at her, and all of us did, too.

    Being picky eaters now encompasses a lot more than just a focus on things we don't like. Now it's all about not eating too many carbs, or too much protein, or too many calories or meat, or processed foods, or stuff that will make us fat or stuff that will harm other creatures, or blah blah blah.

    I don't consider myself picky at all--but I won't eat peanut butter (yuck), and I won't eat beef or poultry for humane reasons, and I won't eat TOO much junk, and I won't eat too much of DH's salt-ridden cooking, and I won't eat oysters because I found out in a bathroom on a transatlantic flight that I'm allergic to them. And I don't drink soda because I think it's poison, and I won't eat anything with HFCS because it's ploy for profits by big corporations.

    Does that make me picky?
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    I try to know as much as possible about the folks I'm cooking for, before I invite them. I have been known to ask, "What foods make you want to gag? I want to be sure I don't put them anywhere near you." I also involve people in the plating of their food, either by letting them get what they want, or asking questions -- is there any of this you don't really want? I'm sensitive to making sure that if I'm the host, people walk away happy.

    When out at a restaurant, I figure it's none of my business what others eat and don't eat, unless they try to convince me of their superior tastes. There's nothing worse than someone who isn't grown up enough to know the difference between "I hate mushrooms (beans, raw onions, mayo)" and "Everybody should hate (insert food), because it sucks." It's like eating with a badly-behaved seven-year-old. They can leave their whole dinner on their plate if they don't like it, I likely won't even notice, free country. I've noticed that people who don't like a LOT of stuff -- I mean, if it's a total minefield trying to figure out what they'll eat (for non-medical reasons) -- often have other behavioral things I don't like, like a sense of entitlement, self-centeredness, or equal pickiness about everything/everyone else in life. Those folks don't last long in our circle of friends anyway.

    I'm glad I've grown out of most of my childhood dislikes, which ranged from tomato sauce to rye bread to coffee. Still don't care for some tastes, like anise, but they're easy enough to avoid.
    Last edited by puglogic; 4-4-12 at 2:21pm.
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  10. #10
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    I think it makes you 'discerning'!

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