It is a trait most commonly associated with young children, but there are still plenty of people who grow up to be adults with a restrictively picky approach to food. It’s not a secret that people all over the world have extremely varying relationships with food that can lead to all sorts of disorders and health threats. Fussy eating can pose all kinds of health problems such as obesity from only choosing to eat sugary or fatty foods, anorexia from being unable to find anything desirable to eat, and many other conditions. It is important to overcome the obstacles that prevent fussy eaters from trying new food as it will open more opportunities to finding a balanced diet with more variety. Here are some common problems fussy eaters experience and how to handle them.
Problem: Eating at Restaurants
It should be a fun prospect to be invited to a restaurant by friends, especially if everyone has been raving about the venue. However, for many fussy eaters, this can be a hugely stressful event. People can be extremely dismissive and judgmental about the eating habits of others, even if they are your friends. The teasing can become hurtful, or you might start to feel like a buzzkill. When everyone else’s plates are clean, yours looks almost as tidy as if it had just come from the kitchen – unless you’d performed the ancient technique of pushing it around to make it look like you’d at least eaten some of it.
Solution: Test Bites
If your friends are willing, ask them if you can try a piece of their meal to see whether or not you like it. Eating at a fancy restaurant and spending a lot of money on something you don’t like can ruin a night out, so sharing with friends takes away that worry. It is best to eat three bites before deciding if you like it or not as this gives your mouth and tongue the chance to understand the food better. Turn this into a habit when eating out and soon you’ll have a larger catalog of foods you are willing to eat.
Problem: Eating at a Dinner Party
The stress of eating at a restaurant pales in comparison to the pressure of enjoying the food lovingly prepared for you by a friend or relative. When your approval of the food can affect your host’s confidence in their cooking skills, it is much more difficult to be choosy or leave without trying anything.
The best approach when dining at a friend’s house is to let them know beforehand that you are a picky eater. Don’t expect them to cater to your dietary preferences, especially if they’ve invited many people. Instead, give them warning that you might not eat much of their food but that it doesn’t reflect their abilities. They’ll be even happier if you end up enjoying the meal after all.
At home, there is rarely the social pressure of being polite and pretending to like food. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges for a fussy eater. Cooking can be a chore when there are so little ingredients that appeal to you. Sometimes it feels easier just to order something you have all the time or snack instead of having a full meal.
Solution: Get Creative
There are so many great ways of approaching food and health that you shouldn’t feel limited by your preferences. Finding the right diet such as one outlined at Sane Solution and experimenting with flavors, textures, and temperatures can change your opinion of a disliked food item dramatically. Cooking is a chance for you to be free to make mistakes and try things you don’t like without feeling like you’ll offend someone.
The biggest part of being a fussy eater has nothing to do with food. The guilt that comes with hurting a chef’s feelings or turning your nose up at something can wear away at your willingness to try new things. As you watch other people enjoying food and not feeling the same way can leave you feeling excluded or embarrassed.
Solution: Research and Understanding
It isn’t your fault that you are a fussy eater. A combination of childhood experiences, psychological connections, and simple preference can affect how you view food. Some people are born with extra-sensitive tongues, and this can cause fussy eating. Others might have a lower tolerance for unusual textures and therefore can’t bring themselves to be adventurous. Lift the guilt from your shoulders by doing some research and knowing that you can change your eating habits over time.