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The Reality of Adult Picky Eaters

By , SparkPeople Blogger

Freaky Eaters is a new TLC show shedding light on eating issues facing many adults. According to this Los Angeles Times show description, many times there are psychological components to freaky eating issues. While the show is focusing on people that avoid specific foods or only eat certain foods or food groups, picky eating for adults can be much more perplexing.

When people have an allergic response or intolerance to food, they are encouraged to avoid those that cause the problems. That same response may happen naturally when people grow up with aversions to specific textures, aromas, or flavors. Members of the Picky Eating Adult Support web community found hundreds of other people dealing with similar issues. A wide range of adults with food issues that increase stress in social situations. For most, the food limitations or aversions started in childhood. Maybe they had sensory issues related to food textures instead of being bothered by the tag in the back of their shirt. Just as adaptations are initiated when the tag bothers a child, food adaptations begin and continue as they grow up. These adaptations or limitations are seen as normal food preferences by the individual and not as an issue even though many times they are frustrating for family and friends. Over time, they become willing to avoid eating rather than being forced to try an offensive food. Some may also experience a sensitive gag reflex that easily kicks in at the insistence of trying or even smelling an averted food. It becomes easier and preferable to avoid the food than face the negative responses.

A new registry known as The Food FAD (Finicky Eating in Adults) Study was started by Duke University and the University of Pittsburgh. Nearly two thousand people have registered and many hope it will bring study interest in the condition. An updated diagnoses has been proposed for the 2013 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for a psychological condition in children and adults known as Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder.

Some people just need ideas and support to learn to love vegetables. For other people, picky eating becomes a bigger problem that shapes food preferences and patterns. Most of us are willing to try new recipes or foods when provided ideas, support and encouragement to expand our eating repertoire. If you believe you or someone you know fits in the "freaky eater" category, perhaps there is a medical or psychological reason that needs to be investigated by a medical provider.

What foods do you avoid? Why? How long has it been since you have given them another try?

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WOW! I am a picky eater. I tend to like things plain (no sauces thank you) and hate veggies. When people hear you hate veggies they think you are just being immature or stubborn. But it is more than that. I want to eat veggies, but I gag when I get them near my mouth. I try to eat them and I come close to getting sick while chewing. It makes me nervous about trying new things. So I don't. Thanks for the article. It makes me feel better to think it is psychological rather than I'm just a baby - the way most people think. Report
A friend of mine has slowly given up eating anything but a bowl of boiled vegetables and pulses for lunch and dinner and for breakfast, a cup of soy yogurt with some cereals. That's the same every day. She says she's a vegan, but vegans do eat rice, pasta, bread... She's a restrictive eater/orthorexic and she doesn't realize her meals are not healthy at all. Report
Until i was about 14 i ate pretty much everything, but as the years have gone by I've found that i am unable to eat veggies and some fruits without getting sick to my stomach. I have always hated onions and mushrooms and have been sensitive to all peppers. my parents used to try and trick me with pizza, they pull everything off and give it to me without me seeing them do it. every time i could taste everything they had pulled off of it. recently i have noticed that some of my favorite things are starting to make me feel ill. I used to be able to pick tomatoes fresh and eat them, carrots i used to pull from the ground and clean and eat. Used to love celery and peanut butter, there is so much that i used to love and can no longer eat. now though something looks very appetizing, i don't try it, i know how it will turn out. i very rarely go somewhere nice to eat anymore. i get embarrassed every time i order, let alone try something that looks good just to get sick to my stomach and have to run to the ladies room. I have never been able to mix foods, let alone have them touch before i eat it. When i can actually smell right, i can't even go into a subway. there are somethings that are a texture thing with like: tomatoes, mushrooms, rice, grits, etc. although i can eat tomato sauce, tomato soup, and ketchup, but not the real thing. all of this together just really bothers me. i wish i could go back to the way things were. where i could eat what ever i wanted and not have to worry about getting sick. there are too many people out there now who believe its all in my head or that i'm just full of crap. sometimes i will try to joke about it, but even when i do that, i still get embarrassed.... anyone else like that? Report
I am a very picky eater. Almost everything I eat is bland and generic. I don't like most condiments, I don't like a ton of vegetables or fruits, I don't like a lot of things. I eat what I like and I'm even picky if certain things touch my food. I am forcing myself to try things here and there but it is such a difficult task. I tend to freak out before I try something. My boyfriend eats almost anything and I am the complete opposite. I tend to make the same things for dinners at it gets old quick. I am working on making separate things for us so he can eat the things he likes, but even touching some of that stuff freaks me out. I made salmon last night for him and was squirming as I touched the fish. Being picky sucks. I wish I didn't have to order everything plain or have a special order, but I have to eat what I like. Report
I'm probably the furthest from a picky eater. I'll eat pretty much anything and I enjoy the unique flavors/textures of different types of foods. My fiance, on the other hand, is probably the most pickiest eater I know. He avoids vegetables like the plague, even if he has never tried them before, and the only way to get him to eat certain healthy foods is by sneaking it into foods he enjoys (tricky tactic on my part). The funny thing though is that some of his favorite foods now are the ones I have made him try which prior to meeting me he would have never touched. I think maybe his picky eating just stems from a personality of being hesitant to try new things. Report
Lamb. the smell is way too much to handle.
Lima Beans. I eat any other bean; Limas have an odd texture.
Salmon. I want to like it bc its so good for you. I keep trying it so perhaps someday I will like it.
I guess 3 items aren't too bad considering all the various types of food out there. Report
Coffee. Fish. Beer. Mashed potatoes. Mashed anything (like squash, too).

Ask me about the fish. That's a voluntary choice. It's because I took fish biology, and froze/thawed the exact same fish for three months, 3-4 times a week. It was not a fish by the end. And the smell... its the smell that gets me. Report
Fish! I was forced to eat smelly fishsticks when I was a kid~ which is old, gross fish. I was unable to abide the thought of fish for over 35 years, & then my husband started deep sea fishing...I wanted to try. He made some with soy & sesame oil & I ate my first whole filet this past Summer! It was great :) Report
I cannot and will not eat cole slaw...with the traditional creamy sauce. I had a "sensory" experience as a child that left me unable to face that particular food! I eat all kinds of raw cabbage dishes, and veggie slaws, say, with a vinegar or lemon juice sauce... but every time I see "regular" cole slaw... the gag reflex kicks in. Sorry, mom, but I know you understand! Report
I have a teenage nephew who has actually finally been diagnosed basically it is antype of Autism for him. Thank God I eat darn near eveything!!!! Report
I have been married for 42 years and have had to work my meals around him because of his picky eating. He will not even try other foods. Now, it is my turn and I have dedicated to myself to fix healthier meals. I He can either eat what I put on the table or take trip to Mickey D's. I am going on 64 and I would like to live longer to see my grandchilden grow up; I AM GOING TO LOSE WEIGHT, THANKS TO SMARKPEOPLE . Report
I have been married for 42 years and have had to work my meals around my husband because of his picky eating. He will not even try other foods. Now, it is my turn and I have dedicated to myself to fix healthier meals. I He can either eat what I put on the table or take trip to Mickey D's. I am going on 64 and I would like to live longer to see my grandchilden grow up; I AM GOING TO LOSE WEIGHT, THANKS TO SMARKPEOPLE . Report
I prefer the term "selective eaters." Report
I didn't see any food allergy responses. I have OAS, Oral Allergy Syndrome.

Many people including Dr's don't know what it is. I didn't know what it was until one day sitting across from a co-worker I mentioned I couldn't eat apples any more. She told me about this syndrome and to check on-line. Personally, I was in my 40's when I noticed the problem, and it was after giving birth to my DS.

There are different types of food allergies within OAS. I have problems with stone fruits, nectarines, cherries, peaches, etc. I also have problems with raw almonds. Unfortunately, within the last two weeks I've been having a throat closing reaction to the baby carrots I have most every day in my salad. As I type this, my throat is constricting, so this was the last meal with raw carrots for me.

The good thing is that I am able to eat apples when they are cooked. Cooking changes the protein structure, but I don't have them very often.

In addition to allergies, I abhor cilantro, that is the worst thing I have ever tasted and now it is used in hundreds of dishes. I abhor peppers of any kind, black, bell, pretty colored ones, the texture of mushrooms and eggplant. I loved being reminded that mushrooms are a fungus, not a veggie, so I never eat those ever again. The last time I tried liver and onions, was back in the dark ages of Weight Watchers and I cried while trying to eat it. Never again.

The last time I had shrimp I barfed it up, so I always avoid those, but my favorite seafood is lobster with melted butter, no seasonings at all.

Lastly, I hate the taste of many things, milk and bananas come to mind immediately, but I eat both of these almost daily. Too healthy for me not to.

I only wish they tasted like chocolate! Milk, dark, semi, white, etc. ummmmmm Report
I tyhink my husband could be on the show! My husband does not like pasta or pizza, does not like rice, can't stand garlic. Will not eat Italian, Mexican, or Chinese food. We basically put a big slab of meat on the grill every night for dinner. The only vegetabe he eats is canned peas and carrots, and it has to be a certain brand. When I first met this man, he would eat oreos for breakfast every morning! Report
I was allergic to milk as a child and will try every once in awhile to drink it plain. But it tastes like dirt to me and I just don't like it. I'll drink it in protein shakes, milk shakes, cereal, etc. I also used to avoid mushrooms but have found that I actually like them. More so raw than cooked. I like to try new things but if I don't like it after one bite I avoid it from then on. Report
there are a few things i don't like, but the main food i avoid is Seafood!

My DH refuses to eat oatmeal (or anything similar) or brussel sprouts Report
So i was the pickiest eater as a child, no meat, not a lot of veggies, broccoli i would only eat the bottoms beause the tops had a wierd texture, banana's i can't eat b/c i gag on them.....
but then i started dating my boyfriend, next thing i know ribs and wings are my favourite things, he sneaks food into dishes so that i will eat them.

I still will not eat sea food (but that is because i have a degree in marine biology, i dissected too many of those creatures during lab.....)
i think you just need to try things to get over it... Report
I was a very pick eater as a child. Some of the food i would gag on if i tried eating them. I use to think i hated vegetables, but found out i didn't hate them just didn't liked canned or veggies that were over cook. I still don't like most cheeses and milk. Report
Since I learned to eat almost everything, I find I have little sympathy for people who take pride in saying they are picky eaters.
I will admit my husband loves buttermilk and I just can't get it down.
And even though I love the smell of coffee and enjoy coffee flavored foods, I cannot stand to drink a cup of it. Guess I can live without those two drinks.
BTW, a friend who is a chef, even got me to try the groundhog he made into stew. Much to my surprise, it tasted just like chicken! Report
i love food . I eat most things . Report
I avoid all kinds of beans... Only because the gas... Report
I'm not too picky, but my hubbie is. He abhors squash, green peppers, broccoli. I do not like okra, it was served to me once and the slime was such a turn-off, ugh! Report
I don't like any chunks of tomato (ketchup & non-chunky sauce is fine), onions in ANY form including onion-y things like chives, or raw mushrooms (cooked & chopped tiny/disguised in things is fine). These are things that have been with me since I was a little kid. I'd try them occasionally to see if my tastes had changed from year to year, but these are my staples!

Eggs & milk by themselves are also no dice. I am vegetarian and I do consume veggie burgers and other veggie-friendly stuff that contains milk or egg products, but either of those two things alone is enough to gross me out. I do eat cheeses but I look for cheese made without rennet.

Other than those few things, I'm pretty willing to give new things a try! I like a vast array of fruits & veggies and ethnic foods, and I like finding new recipes to try out on my boyfriend and I. Report
I'm not that picky of an eater. I LOVE almost all fruits & veggies.

Some people think I'm odd but I hate Ketchup. But I love all other things tomato, go figure.

I also can't stand the smell or taste of corned beef, I used to leave the house when my parents made it. March ends up being a horrible month at work for me. The resort I work for makes it as a special and it ends up being served numerous times to the employees for lunch. Depending on who is cooking, I can beg them to make me something else. Report
I am a very picky eater. I posted a blog about this recently. I can't stand the texture or the taste of lettuce, tomatoes, etc. Most vegetables, whether they are raw or cooked, I can't stand. Sometimes it's the taste, sometimes it's the texture. I tried eating a salad about a month ago. A grilled chicken salad. I LOVE grilled chicken. But I couldn't stomach the salad part. Report
I hate bananas. And cheese. And eggs. And the list goes on and on an on. I totally get this picky eater thing. However, I'm trying to be more adventurous so the meals don't get dull. Report
LIVER!! I was forced to eat it as a kid and I will never, ever, ever even consider trying it again! Everything else that I didn't like, I have tried again, some I still don't like and others I now like. Report
As a child I was a ridiculously picky eater. I hated vegetables, and always ate carbs. Pasta, cheerios and grilled cheese were standard.

Growing up, I would eat hamburgers and hotdogs and such, but hated steak and lots of other meats. Though I grew up very "meat and potatoes". VERY.

When I was a senior in high school, I learned a lot about the realities of meat in America, and stopped. Cold. No more fish, chicken, beef, pork, or anything else. I became vegetarian without a CLUE how to do that. So I lived on PB&J's grilled cheese, and pasta again!

I currently eat chicken and fish, and have become much more adventurous with food, though! I now look forward to sushi, and trying different ethnic foods. (Total 180 from my childhood) But, still have some serious food aversions.
Milk, for example.. I can't stand to drink it straight, and usually opt for almond milk.
Mushrooms! I will eat them if they are seriously disguised and mixed with lots of other veggies, which is a huge improvement for me. ha!
brussel sprouts, asparagus (no matter how many people swear to me that I just haven't had them done properly, and continue to try and sway me.. I simply can't stand asparagus)

But, for the most part, I think I'm fairly normal. Everyone has some things they won't eat, right? Report
Okra!!! YUK!!! Report
Beans - hated the texture of beans - lima especially, lentil - would call it mud soup when mom made lentil soup. Now, after changing my lifestyle - I'm still not going to order or even buy limas - but I often cook with and even just last night ordered "greens and beans" as a side in place of salad. I have learned they can and are a part of this new lifestyle I'm living. Previous to the last two years I could guestimate that I had beans maybe 3 or 4 times a year usually baked beans. Now it's weekly and if you count humus nearly daily. Report
There are a handful of things that I either don't like the taste of or just flat out find unappealing, but I'm not a picky eater for the most part. I was the child that my mom could get to eat anything, including liver. Report
I don't think there is much I would avoid eating. That is why I'm here! LOL

Although, I can't stand livers. I think it smells like cat food. Report
I'm a very picky eater, and very much overweight. I only like lettace, greens, cabbage, green beans, sweet peas, some beans, and corn and I LOVE potatoes, and of course most meats.

I also like apples, oranges, bananas, peaches, plums, and grapes. One of the biggest challenges for me is finding healthy recipes so that I won't get tired of eating the same thing all the time. I wish I wasn't such a picky eater.

I am pretty much an "equal opportunity" eater. The only things I can think of off the top of my head that I don't care for is cooked greens and liver. Glad I don't have this problem. Report
I have never liked the taste of milk, and this was a source of many battles when I was a child. Only discovered as an adult that I don't tolerate it. My body knew that before I did on a conscious level. There are only a few foods I truly don't like, and I try most anything at least once or twice. At this point in my life, I figure there are too many things I do like to waste calories on things I know I don't. Report
Wow, I need to register for the study. I am truly a picky eater. I do not eat mayonaise or anything I think may be made with mayo.(childhood trauma was told it was snake venom). I also do not eat any type of fish or seafood, can not get over the smell to attempt to eat it. I do not eat sour cream, creme cheese, and all dressings except Vinegarettes. And, this is just the short list. YIKES!!! Report
TOMATOES!!!! I have never liked raw tomatoes but have no problem with them when they are cooked. I've tried them again at various times and still feel they are one of the worst flavors and textures I've ever encountered. Report
I avoid milk, since it really upsets my stomach, but I can eat yogurt and cottage cheese. I also do not like yams or sweet potatoes, and have tried them over and over and I still don't like them. I also can't stand the smell of coffee, so I've never even tried it, just couldn't get past the smell. I also avoid anything with artificial sweeteners, they leave a horrible aftertaste and I end up with stomach cramps an hour later :( Report
Sadly, you CAN BE a picky eater and still be "chunky" or "fluffy". I know - I'm one! The better thing to ask me is: What DO you like?

Let's see: Ice cream, candy, cake, cookies...yeap, I'm real choosy about what I eat!!

All these foods on SP are "foreign" to me. But I'm learning... Report
My problem is also the texture. I can't eat hamburger....and don't like most meat. I don't eat shellfish. I don't like mushrooms or coconut. I love vegetables...and oddly enough. adore tomatoes. I am not sure why those don't freak me out...ha. Report
I am not the least bit picky, but there are certain foods I detest because of the texture, like overripe bananas and tomatos, and avocado. Report
I have a few aversions---cannot eat raw apples---got terribly sea sick after eating apples and took 2 hours on land to recover---so that one is mental----also, eggplant--made to cook it in home ec class and we did not do a good job----but have a strong aversion to certain smells----bananas just are awful to me---won't even kiss my dh if he eats one---LOL---and brussel sprouts and black eyed peas are awful smells, too----and fish and seafood are too smelly, too. Report
I am not a picky eater, but understand that I like what I like and don't want to argue about or defend the fact that I don't like bacon, for instance. I don't like it, I don't know why and it gets people all worked up. My husband hates seafood. Well meaning folks are forever trying to convince me to love bacon and him to embrace the shrimp, which he lovingly calls the "roaches of the sea." So, I totally understand taste, texture aversions and people who do not like their food to touch... etc. I have, however, met 2 individuals that I felt carried these food "issues" like a badge of honor. In fact, it felt like they used their issues to control those around them. Every meal is an opportunity to give a dissertation on what they don't eat and why. They would get offended when others would eat things they didn't like or if a hostess had the unmitigated gall to serve that food at a gathering, even if there were other options. It consumes the conversation and keeps it focused directly on them. Everybody has their thing and I support asking for what you want in all areas of life, but it doesn't have to be everyone's problem. Report
When I was a kid, my brother used to gag if he was forced to eat cooked peas. I could not swallow pills until I was in college - I don't like feeling the pill touch the back of my throat; it makes me gag. However, I have learned to love a lot of foods in adulthood that I would not touch as a child, such as peppers (red, green, yellow, orange), green beans, carrots (raw and cooked), broccoli, onions. I have tried foods too, that I still don't care for, like cauliflower. I never ate oranges because I didn't like the pithy strings, but found that canned mandarin oranges have been cleaned, and I love them. I don't like canned veggies as a whole, though I'll eat them in a pinch. I like all meat and fish, but not shellfish (lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp, etc.). I have even tried wild boar and elk, and like both of them. I think being forced to be a member of the Clean Plate Club as a kid probably turned me off of trying new foods. My stepkids are great about trying new foods, and I never make them clean their plates (though I do insist that they finish drinking their milk at supper, and they have never complained about that). Seconds are only allowed when the entire plate is clean. My hubby is not a veggie or fruit lover, but I try to keep his favs in the house. You could not pay me enough to swallow any of those gross things on those reality shows!! Report
It is possible to be a picky eater and still be overweight. Report
Also, one of my best friends is a genuine picky eater. I once counted the kinds of food she can eat and it was up to maybe 20, many of which were candy items. She eats spaghetti noodles with ketchup, french fries, chicken nuggets, mandarins, grapes, strawberries, hostess cupcakes, gummy worms, pizza, dr pepper, lucky charms, and recently has been encouraged to try orange chicken which she liked. For her this is a really serious problem, as you can see she doesn't get a lot of nutrition. Plus she has extreme social anxiety about it because when we go out with friends she always has to eat pizza. I'm mentioning this because some insensitive individual was saying how stupid it is it that they're going to make this a disorder.
it is. if she continues to eat this way she can get any number of physical ailments, from diabetes to heart problems. Plus she has mentioned to me that she doesn't feel human because she can't eat like other people. She feels like she doesn't even belong on earth and she should have died a long time ago. So it leads to serious mental trauma as well.
This freaky food show, ( i've actually watched it for more insight on her disorder) shows people that have SERIOUS eating disorders. There was a girl who ate white bread and soda. That was essentially her entire diet. There was a girl who halfway through the show turned out to be pregnant. Imagine what an extreme diet like that was doing to the fetus!
There is a serious consequence to the people who are really affected by picky eating, not just the people who "can't eat fish" or "can't stand tomatos."
Personally, while i'll eat anything i don't really like bananas that don't have brown spots. i won't eat them unless i'm hecka hungry. but that doesn't make me a picky eater in the same way as my friend and the people on shows like this and the people who contributed to that study. Report
i am the exact opposite of a picky eater. i will eat pretty much anything you put in front of me, from veggies (yum!) to strange foods from foreign places. i always get mad when i see shows where they pay a guy to travel places and eat weird things like bugs. how can i get that job, seriously?? Report
I cannot eat moldy cheeses - they make me physically sick. Cilantro is also one of those foods that make me ill - especially the strong cilantro in Thai food. I don't go into any kind of shock when eating these, I simply involuntarily throw up. Report
as a child the only thing i could not stand to eat was lentil soup! And we ate everything from dandelions to liverwurst. However I have made it myself as it is so good for you, and I like it now, but i still hate to look at it. eating blackish soup just seems so wrong. Report
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