Tales from the Picky Eater’s Plate

As my parents could probably tell you, I’ve been a picky eater as long as I can remember (and probably even before that). One of the first coherent thoughts I expressed aloud, as a child, was “Don’t want. Not good. Bad taste.” XD

My relationship with certain types of food, therefore, has been a tenuous one. Most vegetables and “healthy” food has instead tasted horribly bitter to me–and I don’t think I’m alone in that. Not only that, I experience aversions to certain food textures as well, which I’ll elaborate on in a moment–and I’m also not the only one to be particular about food textures. Some consider it a mild eating disorder, some think it’s part of a sensory disorder, and others are simply talking about their own food texture hates.

Through my growing-up years and into adulthood, I have kept trying new foods that contain the ingredients I didn’t like. But I often find myself spitting out the non-favorite food anyway, either voluntarily into a napkin or involuntarily (gagging and sometimes even throwing up). This is not an entitlement issue–it’s actually quite restricting to my diet, and makes it 3 times more complicated when I have to order things specially made, or have to do “surgery” on a meal to remove all the crap I’m not going to touch.

Example: People don’t realize how lettuce and tomato flavors RUIN a burger, for instance–you can take the lettuce leaf and tomato slice off, but the bitter juices remain, tainting the bun, cheese slice and meat patty beneath, not to speak of all the condiments you lose in the “burger surgery” process. And if I ask for lettuce and tomato to be removed, I still have to pay regular price for it; I’m basically paying for lettuce and tomato I don’t want and don’t get. NOT fair, much?

When I have tried to explain my particular food tastes to others, the general consensus is that if “I’d just try it, I’d like it.” But I don’t like wasting money on food I just flat won’t eat. And, most of the time, I have tried these foods, and I still didn’t like them, or I experienced such a violent negative reaction to them that it’s not worth it. It seems my taste buds are very particular, and though I’d like to get healthy and eat “healthy,” most of the good-for-me foods don’t even taste like food to me.

Non-Favorite Foods

Vegetables

  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Lettuce (especially Iceberg lettuce)
  • Olives
  • Broccoli (if not cooked in anything)
  • Spinach (if not drowned out with cheese)
Fruits

  • Pineapples
  • Apples
  • Oranges (if left whole)
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries (if left whole)
  • Cherries
  • Peaches
Meats

  • Steak
  • Bacon
  • Southern-style barbecue
  • Most seafood
  • Fatty bits hanging on any meat product
Desserts/Snacks

  • Chocolate in too large a quantity
  • Twinkies
  • Shredded coconut
  • Anything drowning in grease/fat
  • Yogurt

How This Stuff Tastes to Me

  • Broccoli and spinach are only good mashed up in casseroles with loads of cheese on top so I can’t really taste ’em. Otherwise, they both taste like crunchy grass. (As in, I eat it and I’m tempted to moo afterwards.)
  • Chunky chopped tomatoes/whole tomatoes taste like acidic water and soil, and nothing else. And the texture is nasty as well–slippery and slidy in my mouth, dodges my teeth. Yuck. But I can eat ketchup just fine; go figure.
  • Bananas have too flat a flavor to really enjoy, but it’s the texture that kills me. Soft and mushy right until you get to the middle, and then your teeth crunch through this hard bit in the center. Um, no thank you, I didn’t want cardboard in the middle of my banana.
  • Eating olives feels like I’m eating cooked eyeballs. HECK to the NO.
  • Eating cooked onions is like eating spicy slivers of tapeworms. Pull the onion slice out of a breaded onion ring sometime and you’ll see exactly what I mean. BLEGH!
  • Iceberg lettuce (the really pale green/white kind) is basically crunchy, bitter paper impregnated with water.
  • Mushrooms have an odd rubbery texture that kinda feels like I’m eating a bodily organ of some sort. Combine that with an utter lack of flavor, and you get why I hate mushrooms.
  • Pulp and fiber in most fruits and vegetables is like eating a wad of Silly String, or gum that has long since lost its flavor. Examples: celery (bite into it, and it looks like split ends), oranges (yuck, pulp that gets all over my tongue and I can’t swallow it)
  • I’ve tried and tried to enjoy Twinkies and other “just-sugar-and-fat” foods, and I can’t take ’em. They are literally too sweet–my mouth dries out and I choke.
  • Very greasy food, like Taco Bell’s new beef recipe = not awesome.
  • I can take chocolate in small quantities, but I have to have something to drink with it–otherwise, the back of my throat burns like I’ve tried to swallow rubbing alcohol.
  • Strong fishy odors make me think of women’s health issues, NOT food. Seafood is largely yuck for that reason. (Seafood is also very chewy/oily)
  • Yogurt is okay in smoothies–just PLEASE do not serve it to me plain. The “live, rotting bacteria” taste has to be covered up with a much stronger flavor.

Not Just Taste, but Texture, Too

It’s true–I generally pay attention to texture of food as well as taste. One more reason that I hate most vegetables and fruit is because of the natural crunchy or pulpy texture–I don’t like too much crunch and too little taste, like in Iceberg lettuce, nor do I want 75% of what I ingest to be tasteless wads of pulp or seeds, like oranges and bananas.

Along with crunchy and pulpy, the tough, chewy foods are generally not on my happy list; thus, why I rarely eat most forms of pork and steak. Bacon? No, thank you, all you are is crisp and grease, or too tough to pull apart. BBQ pork? No, you’re just possum meat in a different animal (longer you chew it, bigger it gets). Steak? Why pay 16 bucks for meat that either tastes like leather or is mooing at me?

Basically, if the food feels disgusting in my mouth, I’m not going to be able to eat it, even if it tastes okay. Example: as much as I love oranges’ flavor, I can’t stand the texture of the pulp in my mouth–thus, no whole oranges for me. Literally makes me want to gag.

Other Picky Food “Rules”

  • Vegetables and meats are supposed to be salty, and fruits and desserts are supposed to be sweet. No crossovers allowed (i.e. sweet corn, honey barbecue flavored meat, watermelon with salt on it, brownies with salted nuts included).
  • Sweet and salty flavors are not supposed to mesh in the same food. Instead, sweet should be cleansed from the palate first before taking a bite of salty, and vice versa.
  • If the meat is pink, has blood running from it, or if the meat looks too much like the animal it came from (i.e., leg of lamb that still LOOKS like a leg), no way I’m eating it.

Summary

Since we all eat but experience food differently, food is both an intensely universal and personal experience. My experience is just one among many–yours is likely completely different. But it’s interesting to share what foods we love and hate, and why.

I also wanted to raise awareness of the food texture issue, since that seems to be a much more common phenomenon than I ever dreamed. Who knew I had compatriots in the hatred of orange pulp and banana seeds?

2 thoughts on “Tales from the Picky Eater’s Plate”

  1. Yay, I have super taste-buds! lol because according to the article, I hate black coffee. 😛

    However, yes, you are absolutely a picky eater. Wow, the way you interpret the taste of some food…I mean, I never thought it out that much. I’m a picky eater, but no longer will I stick “very” before that.

    I completely agree with Iceberg lettuce being crunchy paper impregnated in water. Well said, I feel the same. Romaine is my preferred because it’s actually green. Iceberg is like the base of the Romaine lettuce that is just crunchy bits that never finished growing. O_o

    As a Cuban, we LOVE cooked onions. I can eat cooked onion sliver by the spoonful alone. Oh maaaan…

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