So as I was looking up blog posts about picky eaters, I got so enraged that I was almost in tears. When I saw a post on Reddit about this, I was made to feel childish. As I may have mentioned in more than one blog post, I’m a picky eater. I already feel bad about being a picky eater. Being called “childish” and “a deal breaker for dating” makes me feel worse. I can’t help it that I’m a picky eater. I don’t want to be a picky eater. I don’t want to have to look at restaurant menus to see if there is anything I can even eat. You all are failing to even consider the many (but not all) reasons why someone’s picky.
- Food allergies and intolerances. My niece is allergic to peanuts, my best friend from university is allergic to mushrooms, and a cousin has Celiac Disease. While my best friend’s food trigger can be avoided more easily, it’s not very easy to avoid things made of peanut products or gluten (though there are more gluten-free options than when my cousin was diagnosed). You know what would happen if they weren’t picky about what they ate? They’d get sick. My niece and best friend will break out in hives and my cousin will end up with intestinal damage.
- Mental health and neurodiversity. Many people with autism do not have many foods that they will eat without having a meltdown. Based on stories I have read, some people with autism have so few foods that they will eat that I can count with one hand. With other stories, I can use both hands. OCD can be a factor too, when it comes to foods touching, texture, color, etc. Now don’t go self-diagnosing yourself as OCD because of this.
- In some cases, it’s a disorder. There are many conditions, besides the aforementioned autism, that is a factor in having what is called a “feeding disorder”. Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), formerly known as Selective Eating Disorder is one of them. ARFID is very selective eating that is not attributed to lack of available food, a medical condition, or mental health issue. Learn more about it here. I eat a lot of different foods in comparison to the people whose stories are on that site’s guestbook.
- Food restrictions based on religion. Some religions prohibit the consumption of certain foods. A majority of people who follow the Hindu faith are vegetarians. Hindu practitioners who aren’t vegetarians still avoid beef. Muslims and certain sects of Judaism prohibit pork. I used to work with a woman who is vegetarian because she is Hindu. The barber in the hair salon I go to is Muslim. This is non-negotiable. They cannot eat your pulled pork sandwiches.
- They’re vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian, or anything else that means they don’t eat animal products and/or meat. With the exception of pescetarians who go to a seafood restaurant, there aren’t many options at restaurants for those who don’t eat meat. Yes, there are restaurants that only serve vegetarian or vegan meals, but how far do you have to go to find that if you don’t live in the city? I’m not a vegetarian, but the nearest vegetarian-only restaurant that I know of is about 26 miles away.
I am less picky than I used to be, but I’m still picky. My pickiness is largely based on how food looks. I’m also worried that if I order a new food at a restaurant, I won’t like it and I will have wasted money. I’m not picky based on texture, but I have liked certain foods or snacks because of its texture. Sometimes, me trying new foods would be a result of not having any choice. One time, Red Lobster ran out of chicken tenders on Mother’s Day, so I had to have a chicken caesar salad. I wanted to try the caesar salad, though, so I guess it wasn’t that bad of an experience. I also had to try beef stew one time at my ex-boyfriend’s family dinners to celebrate someone’s birthday. There was way too much wine in it. I’m sensitive with overpowering tastes, which is why I don’t like chocolate.
However, I have discovered foods that I like because of trying new things. I love sushi now, after trying it in March 2016. My boyfriend’s father’s cousin made the best French toast I ever had (I first tried it at my childhood friend Samantha’s 13th birthday sleepover). Franklin, honey, if you see this blog post, tell Ms. Linda to invite us over for brunch again. Maybe for Christmas? I first tried miso soup in 2014 when a moderator group I was a part of went out for Japanese food. Very delicious. I always get miso soup with my sushi.
So shame on you if you want to stigmatize people for something that it turns out they can’t control. Trust me, we don’t want to be picky eaters either.