Navigating life as a picky eater
I have been a picky eater for as long as I can remember.
My parents tried, they really did, but my stubbornness won out. I grew up eating a lot of cereal, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chicken fingers.
At age 13, inspired by my then-obsession with Silverchair, I decided I was becoming a vegetarian. I am still a vegetarian to this day, half due to ethical reasons and half due to the fact that meat just grosses me out at this point.
My eating habits were even worse as a teenager — grilled cheese sandwiches, plain quesadillas, cereal, and pizza were go-to meals, along with a ton of junk food on the side. When I decided to lose weight in college, I survived on low-calorie, processed crap. 100-calorie packs, Celeste personal pizzas and low-calorie English muffins were samples in my diet, and I hardly ever ate anything fresh.
Fortunately, doing my first whole30 nearly five years ago got me off all the processed foods for a month and introduced me to a plethora of delicious, healthy, natural foods. I am not saying you should never, ever eat anything processed, but I ONLY ate processed foods. Post-whole30, I was eating way healthier, but the slope got a little slippery the further removed I was from the whole30.
Then, two years ago, I was told to cut gluten out of my diet due to some stomach issues. I hadn’t been eating a ton of gluten, but not even having it as an OPTION was a struggle.
So, where does that leave me, a picky, gluten-free vegetarian?
I’ve tried to be less picky, especially now as my diet is severely limited, but, for the most part, I just can’t. It frustrates me when people tell me to, “just eat it!” because I would love to! I just … cannot. If something looks weird or smells weird or has a weird texture … well you get the point, I can’t go near it without gagging. It’s been suggested that picky eating is a disorder, and I don’t disagree.
While I have made progress on my picky eating, I still am eons away from being anything close to normal. Going out to eat is an absolute nightmare for me, and I avoid it all costs. When I do have to go out, I find myself scouring the menu for days beforehand, trying to find just one thing I can eat, packing Larabars in my purse, frantically emailing managers to ask if they can accommodate me and generally stressing out. It’s embarrassing, and honestly, I wish I wasn’t so picky every day.
But being a picky eater does have its benefits, I suppose. I eat the same exact meals and snacks every single day. It makes grocery shopping and food prep so much easier. I never have to think about what I am eating next, it’s already decided. My husband and I rarely go out to eat (see above), so we save money there. We do spend more on groceries as we strive to eat healthfully, but I think we still come out winning.
At 31, I don’t think I will ever grow out of my picky eating. I have done better over the years, introducing squash, nuts and eggs (in the form of a paleo pancake anyway) into my daily diet. But pretty much 80 percent of food? Blech, keep it away from me.