And You Thought You Were a Picky Eatertomatoes

I wouldn’t eat eggs until I was in college. Didn’t have my first cup of coffee until I was thirty. Didn’t like many green vegetables as a kid. My wife has banned just about the entire fruit family. Has a genuine fear of bananas and tomatos. Turns out these are only mild symptoms of picky eating and that the real thing can be a lot more drastic.

I know some people who grew up with divided plates so that the various food groups would not come in contact with each other, but it turns out that in some cases, this childhood behavior morphs into something that borders on being an eating disorder as they reach adulthood. dividedplateWe even have food psychologists now to help us work through these eating behavior problems.

When is picky eating a serious problem? Most experts agree that if your picky eating habits threaten your quality of life, that’s a problem. Some picky eaters consult with doctors who treat OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), but that’s not necessarily the problem. For many picky eaters it’s more like a phobia – they are literally afraid to touch, smell, and definitely do not want to taste specific foods. It may be a texture issue (why my wife won’t eat a tomato...the seeds, the seeds!) or it may involve not wanting to eat any foods with your hands (from peanuts to pizza). Going to a party or a business dinner can become a very complicated and anxiety laden experience to serious picky eaters.

If any of these descriptions sound familiar, you are not alone. There is blackberriesa website for picky eaters founded by a gentleman who dreads having to eat anywhere but at home. Read what some picky eaters have to say about their food habits and you begin to realize that it really can have a negative impact on their quality of life. There are stories about marriage proposals deferred, dating relationships ended, and people who have found ways to never eat food in a public place. And if you don’t think that sounds serious, what about the picky eater who has children and passes their finicky eating habits on to their children.

What used to pass as just a phase is now taken more seriously as a disorder that may be treatable with therapy. Picky eaters can have breakthroughs when a therapist helps to identify the factors that contribute to specific food phobias and work on behavior modification strategies. Other picky eaters don’t want to change, and never will. The man who can only eat one food at a time (they must not touch) knows that the foods co-mingle in his stomach, but that’s not the point. They just can’t be together in his mouth. He can still go out to eat in a restaurant, as long as he can eat his way. It brings new meaning to the saying, we are what we eat.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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