The plight of picky eating adults -

The plight of picky eating adults

Researchers are finally exploring distress at the dinner table


Rhonda West’s picky eating began during breastfeeding. “I couldn’t have my mother’s milk, so they put me on cow’s milk, but I was allergic, so then they put me on soy,” she says. “When it came time for solid foods, I didn’t want any part of that.” In fact, most foods made her want to gag.

Now, 41 years later, West is a picky eating adult. She survives on toast, waffles, pancakes, simply cooked meats, and French fries. (Oddly, almost all adult “selective eaters” include French fries in their limited food repertoire). “I don’t like foods that are mixed-up together,” says West, who lives in the Washington, D.C.-area and is currently looking for work. No vegetables, few fruits, and absolutely nothing that’s too soft or squishy. “I equate eating pasta with eating a plate of worms.”

For picky eaters, most meals are unbearable, and nearly all foods make them nauseous. Failed relationships, lost work opportunities, and anxiety caused by the very thing others derive great pleasure from.

While childhood picky eating is commonly recognized, little has been done to understand people like West—until now. In July, Duke University and the University of Pittsburgh launched the first national public registry of picky eaters, known as the Finicky Eating in Adults study ( People can log in and complete a survey about their relationship with food and eating habits. It’s still early stages, but this study is designed to help researchers better understand “avoidant, restrictive food intake disorder”—which is currently under consideration as an officially recognized eating disorder, like bulimia or anorexia.

Marsha D. Marcus, chief of the Behavioral Medicine Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and one of the lead investigators on the study says, picky eaters tend to fall into one of three groups: those with taste issues, those who have never had a real interest in food, and a third group who have had traumatic or aversive experiences with food.

Marcus says it’s too early to tell how many suffer from this disorder, but she’s heard of cases where one’s eating restrictions are so acute they survive by a feeding tube. Others avoid vacations, business meetings, dinner parties, and weddings—any event that brings them into contact with unknown food. Indeed, one American sufferer said that Thanksgiving is known among picky eaters as “Black Thursday”.

However, Marcus is careful to distinguish adult picky eaters from people with the food quirks most everybody lives with. “We’re not trying to pathologize people’s preferences,” she says. “We’re looking for people whose food restrictions are a source of impairment or distress or have led to a health problem.”

One interesting theory the researchers will explore is whether picky eating is genetic. “There might be a group of people who have different ways of tasting, so the food that tastes good to you or me tastes awful to them,” says Marcus.

According to picky eater West, this is a distinct possibility. “Picky eating is nature not nurture,” West says. “People are light, sound, smell, touch, skin sensitive—why not taste?” In fact, West insists that if she could change her palate, she would. “It’s high anxiety when you’re going to meet new people, especially for a job, and you have to explain why you’re not eating anything on the menu,” she says. When she summons the courage to go to a restaurant, she usually requests plain grilled chicken.

T.J. Haselden, a computer salesman living in Montreal, refers to himself as “the pickiest eater in Canada.” Of the disorder, the part-time comedian says, “I have learned to laugh about it, but the truth is that I’m really getting fed-up.”

Haselden eats only six foods: hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, turkey, bacon, and French fries. He gags at the thought of tasting anything new, and also claims that this disorder began in childhood. “Everybody tries to say it’s my mom’s fault for not treating it the right way. I always say the only thing I can blame my mom for is that she was too accommodating.”

When he was a teenager living with roommates, Haselden would stay away from the kitchen. When friends ordered pizza, he’d tell them he was allergic to tomatoes to avoid confrontation. Now 30, he lives with his wife, Chantal, and has realized that his picky eating infringes on her life, too. “She can’t explore her taste buds the way she would want to.” For example, when she eats something as simple as pasta—a dish he abhors—the two have to sit at opposite ends of the dinner table. “I can smell the pasta so much I feel like I could taste it and it makes me want to gag.”

Haselden is undertaking a film project in the hopes that he can broaden his palate. He’ll document a 30-day journey of new tastes, attempting to try every food he’s been afraid of. “I want to use the power of the camera to overcome my fear and make people laugh.”

But can he and other picky eaters change their ways? Nancy Zucker, the director of the Duke Center for Eating Disorders who is leading the study with Marcus, says she hopes so. Her goal is to come up with effective coping strategies and treatment, and to distinguish selective eating from other eating disorders.

“People have a tough time having empathy for those who taste things differently,” she observes. “Even more profoundly, imagine you had an experience and you tasted something and thought, ‘this tastes like cardboard’ and people were mad at you for that, saying that you’re not experiencing what you’re experiencing. That’s what these people go through everyday. It’s time we explore and recognize what’s going on here.”


The plight of picky eating adults

  1. This will never garner sympathy from anyone. This is a problem unique to the developed world – do you think there's anyone in a war-torn African country that may not even get 1 meal per day who would turn their nose up at a plate of fresh fruits and vegetables? Of course not. It is disgusting to think that someone living in a country that can afford and can produce enough food for everyone has a "disorder" and would expect empathy for their "plight" of picky eating. It is indeed "time we explore and recognize what's going on here." Be a little more grateful that you have access to the proper nutrition and diet; choosing not to eat it is ridiculous (yes, it's a CHOICE – fruits and veggies WILL NOT kill you), so pinch the nose and wolf the food down, you won't die. We've heard enough.

    • Well… as much as I appreciate your bluntness, and to a certain degree even agree with you, and for the most part are probably right, I don't think everyone can be categorized as just being a picky eater. I think there are probably situations where physical or psychological factors may preclude somebody from being able to eat something, and it is very real.

      • I'm sure this is very real for some people, but they shouldn't expect the same sympathy as someone with brain cancer. I'm not mad at people for having this "disorder," I'm mad that people who have access to a healthy diet choose not to eat it then complain and about it. Maybe once we've eliminated world poverty, found a clean renewable energy, and ended all wars, we can focus on adult picky eaters. Until then, this is a non-issue.

        • OK.

    • It is ignorant people like you who make this problem for people like me a daily nightmare. I do not “choose” to be the way I am. Perhaps you should stop being so ignorant like the rest of the world and learn more about this before you post insensitive comments. You don’t know what it’s like to have to live like this. I would love to be able to eat fruits and vegetables and normal food, but to me, my brain does not see it as food. No it will not “kill” me to eat it obviously, but it would be an extremely unpleasant situation that would almost definitely include gagging. How am I supposed to enjoy a food after that?

      How do you know there aren’t people in third world countries like us? Have you ever talked to any?

      How dare you tell me I’m not grateful for the amount of food I have access to. I am incredibly grateful. I just wish my body would truly let me appreciate it.

      Picky eating is NOT a choice! I don’t care whether you offer me sympathy or not and no of course I don’t expect the same amount of sympathy as for someone with brain cancer, but wouldn’t you say that about just about any other disorder? I just want understanding and to not be ridiculed for what I eat, or rather can’t eat. You have no idea how much it sucks to meet new people, go out to dinner for the first time and have to explain time and time again why you can’t eat anything on the menu.

      • I have an ex-husband who would LITERALLY not eat anything other than meat (no fish), potato products, and macaroni and cheese. Also any kinds of sweets or dairy was OK to him.

        It would drive me CRAZY and EMBARRASS ME to death because of this flat-out choice of his to not eat anything other than those five foods. It was so bad I actually used it as a screening question on dates I went on. "So, what's your favorite food? Do you eat vegetables?"

        The fact is that ultimately, what you choose to acclimate yourself to is up to you. You *CAN* eat fruit, pasta, burgers, whatever–YOU CAN because your digestive system is MEANT to. Whatever is wrong with you is completely in your own brain, and you have about as much sympathy from me as someone with, say, ADHD gets from me.

        It was such a hassle being restricted in what I could cook in this way that to this DAY I get angry.

        I hope you can get over it.

        • Exactly. It may be "embarrassing" and even mortifying, but if it is that much of an issue to you, seek counseling. "ZOMG, I can't eat anything but processed foods filled with preservatives" is such an entitled "disorder." It goes back to the comment about third world countries-I think it's safe to say that people without ready access to deep freezers, microwaves, can openers, and blue boxes of fakaroni and cheese won't have such an issue. They're not going to be addicted to french fries because I highly doubt most tribal peoples running through the Amazon have Fry Daddies hooked up in their huts.

          I could be wrong here.

      • SB, you are not grateful for what you have on the plate. PERIOD.

        I came from a third world country and there is no one there that picky about their food. You are the one that needs to learn about the world. Back in Africa, my people eat absolutely everything and anything. Barks, clay, insects, you name it.

        Go stave yourself for a few days and see if you're still picky about food. You MADE THE CHOICE TO BE PICKY. You have choices, that's the problem. When you have no choice and it is either to live or die, you will eat ANYTHING.

        I AM FROM A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY, so what are you going to say about that?

        • This is what I have to say…your opinion, which you're quite entitled to, is that picky eating in adults is a choice. What the picky eater is trying explain, is that is it not a choice. You disagree with each other and that's fine. The difference with you is that you seem to think that your opinion is the right one and anyone who disagrees with you is wrong and "not grateful" for what they have. That is ignorance. So instead of belittling the other person, just say that you disagree with what they are saying. Do not try to act like some clown who thinks he knows more about the subject than he does.

      • Amen to that brother! I am sick of people who open their big mouth and have NO idea what it is like to be this way. I was born with this problem and I would not wish it on anyone. It has made my life very difficult. Thanks for telling it like it is!

    • I'd like to see some links to research that indicate this does not exist in the developing world.

    • You sound like you are a very uninformed and critical person. If you think disorders are because we are wealthy in the west, perhaps you should have your disorder treated by moving to a third world country and looking for a specialist.

    • Try living like one of us for a day and you'll see that it's a real issue. F U buddy for your close-mindedness.

  2. I hate cooking for people my own age. I can generally cook for boomers and older no problem, but cooking for young people is a pain in the ass.

    • OMG how can you disrespect my gluten-allergic locavore wheatgrass cleanse like this!

      Here is a good piece on the "rise" of gluten allergies.

      • Let's not forget about the "peanut allergies" that prevent me from sending a PB&J sandwich with my kid to school for lunhc, and from me getting a back of honey roasted on the airplane…

        • Ugh, that pisses me off to no end. I don't understand why someone else's kid's allergies means MY kid can't enjoy his favorite lunch.

          • prolly because peanut allergies CAN KILL YOU?!?!?

          • I'm aware of that. However, my kid having a peanut butter sandwich in a plastic baggie in his lunch bag, then EATING the peanut butter sandwich, is not going to contaminate anybody else's lunch. Unless the allergic kid decides to go into my kid's lunch and eat/wallow in the peanut butter, he'll be fine. And if your kid's allergic to stuff, perhaps you should instruct him to stay away from it.

          • I agree completely!

  3. If one looks at the 'picky eater' one might consider a HEALTHY diet to be one of a "picky eater". It has been shown a man can live on ONE QUARTER the amount of protein which the government has told us we NEED. ONE QUARTER.

    Now who is right .. ?
    The RDA for protein is four times higher than what the famous Danish
    dietician .. Dr M. Hindbede says a 150-lb. man can live on .. ?

    "Dr M. Hindbede, famous Danish dietician, says a 150-lb. man can live on half an oz. of protein a day"

    That would be about 15 grams.

    "The RDA for protein is .8 gm/kg bodyweight, or 56 gm for a 154 lb

    • There's a huge difference between what you can survive on at minimum and what is a healthy amount.

  4. I was a picky eater in childhood. I ate little, was underweight. My mother despaired. What cured me was summer camp. It was either eat what was in the dining hall on starve. So I spent the first few days famished because I turned up my nose at everything. But after that I had to eat because there was nothing else. So I ate stuff that would have made me barf just days before like cream of wheat, oatmeal, creamed corn, scrambled eggs, sloppy joes. Creamed corn became the food of the gods, oatmeal was manna from heaven. sloppy joes were food for kings. After a few days of almost no food I ate everything but the drapes. Amazing what some intense hunger and indifference from fellow campers and camp counsellors accomplished. Been ok ever since. Now I’m overweight.

    • typo… should read "either eat what was in the dining hall or starve."

      • You are one of those that CAN grow out of picky eating. Many of us in the group would have starved for real. Not out of spite or ill behavior but the equivalent of asking you to eat live worms and roaches for 2 weeks or starve.

    • I had to eat bugs and catfood during a realty TV event …it was gross, but now that I have done it, it gives me some additional powers. I can survive on insects if I'm lost in the wild or on Alpo if I'm ever destitute.


  5. Picky eaters are no fun to go out with and aside from true health aliments I think we could all adjust to a healthy eating program. Picky could also be a lazy non creative cook through no fault but their own


    • I hear that internet complainers and armchair experts are also not much fun to go out with.

  6. I absolutely abhor picky eaters: a genetic tendency to dislike certain types of food? I have a hard time buying that. Most picky eaters I've known are people that were fed processed foods and only processed foods when they were kids and the parents didn't do anything to encourage them to try different things.
    I was a bit of a picky eater as a child but I got over my apprehension towards potatoes and onions as I got older and my parents stoppped giving in to my demands.

    • You can "buy" it or not. Doesn't change the fact that picky eating IS a true disorder and it's NOT a choice. My parents tried to introduce a varied diet with limited processed foods. However, my mom was a picky eater and I picked up a lot of her eating habits. She still eats more fruits and vegetables than I do. Even after trying many things, I have still fallen victim to a diet mostly filled with processed foods, but not by choice. It is definitely exactly what you said "a genetic tendency to dislike certain types of food" and it's not anything I would choose or wish on anyone else. Even to this day, trying to force myself to try new things makes me gag and feel physically afraid and/or sick. If you are not picky, I don't expect you to understand what it feels like. But try not to be so judgmental of something you don't understand or know anything about.

      • Until "picky eating" shows up on something more substantial than "" I think I'm going to have to go with it's not actually a disorder. It's not like you have a body image issue driving you to eat french fries. You've got a strong preference for junk. Isn't that a shame?

        • This has nothing to do with preference, trust me. Who doesn't like junk foods? That's not the issue, though. Most people CAN and DO eat vegetables. However, people like me CAN NOT. I have tried many times to introduce new healthy foods into my diet and am usually unsuccessful. I will not go into great detail about what happens, but it is not pleasant. Secondly, it has shown up on many things more substantial than MacLeans. Try Psychology Today, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. As noted in this article, Duke and the U of Pittsburgh are currently conducting a study. This is very real. What's a shame is that you are ignorant and unsympathetic to something you don't understand.

          • Amen!

    • Many picky eaters begin in infancy. We cannot tolerate breast or cows milk. When it is time to start baby food or semi solid foods, we gag or vomit. Now this is long before a we have sense of "self or will" . Yes, some of the reactions can be exacerbated by parents making a stressful environment but the core is real just like, eyes sensitive to light, ears to noise, and skin to certain materials.

      Hang on. A few in the medical community are beginning to take notice and you will hear picky eating is nature NOT nurture.

      PS. How does it affect your life what another does or does not put in their mouth?

      • It affects my life because I still have to live in the same world as you. You're my friends, my dates, whatever. And my friend who won't go out to the pub with us because we're not going to order plain cheese pizza and they don't have chicken nuggets or french fries–that's weird. It's embarrassing when I "forget" he's a picky eater and invite him along.

        You're my ex- that wouldn't eat anything but meat and potatoes, embarrassing my excellent cook of a mother to death.

        And on and on. Your weirdness permeates my world and it quite frankly angers me that you're allowed (Key word: allowed) to act like this because you're a privileged, entitled spoiled little brat who wants to make every meal about them. It's beyond rude.

        • It sounds like you're the privileged, entitled spoiled little brat who wants to make everything about you. Poor you. You have to suffer the indignity of having friends, dates or whatever that might make you embarrassed. If you don't want to be affected, drop all your friends that embarrass you. Mind you, if all your friends did the same, you might find yourself friendless. I for one would be ashamed to call someone so self-absorbed my friend.

          • "privileged, entitled spoiled little brat "

            But picky eating is entirely a first-world phenomenon, literally a product of immense privilege. Is there any evidence of picky eating in parts of the world where the alternative is starvation?

        • Sounds like you['re the spoiled tyrant. I know my aversion is real and has a physical cause. Why else would I vomit when I try tio eat so many foods? That gag reflex is as real as your intolerance of problems that don't afflict you.

  7. What I find fascinating about picky eaters is that they usually eat foods with little or not food value. That is, they do not eat fresh fruits & vegetables or healthy meats but they almost always eat french fries and hot dogs. I would be interested to know why that is. I would not think that an apple has a bitter taste or a repellant texture. The same could be said for a carrot straight from the garden. I wonder if the research will uncover some of this information.

    • It is true for most of PE french fries are out manna/manioc if you will. We have NO idea why and are working with scientists to figure out why. Picky eaters come in a range just like everything else. I like many fruits, simply cooked meats, rice, carrots, lettuce . . . As I've gotten older my pickiness has decreased but the CORE issue is still VERY much there.

      We are just as healthy as anyone else, in fact folks in our group rarely become ill in the winter? Strange, we do not know why. AND

      Think about all the food "normal" eaters fight and struggle to give up on a diet. We have no such problem because we do not eat those things in the first place.

  8. PART ONE: What is up with all the rude ignorant comments?!? Why don't you critics even try to approach this subject with a bit of understanding? Would you be so judgmental if it was someone with a sensory disorder? What about someone with OCD? Would you say the same thing them? They at least have some avenue to go along and support that would able them to overcome their specific ailments. Adult picky eaters do not have such a network, and are consistently belittled by people like some who posted here, who think they know better. IT IS NOT A CHOICE. Think of it this way, there are places in the world where insects are a food stable. If you were scared to death of spiders and were told to eat one, WOULD YOU DO IT??

    • PART TWO: I *know* full well that food variety will not kill me, that is not the issue. The issue is, is that any “foreign” food that enters my palate instantly gags me and if I do manage to get it down I will most likely will throw it back up because my system still rejects it. The other issue is, at least for me, is that I get very anxious and stressed over the idea of eating anything “different” and the stress is only compounded by people telling me “you can eat it if you wanted to.” I really wish I could, but I cannot. How is that something you “just get over?” There are thousands of people just like me and the numbers keep growing and this article is a prime example of it. Shouldn't that anomaly be something worth considering?

    • YES.

    • If you were starving, and the only food was something "gross", would you eat it? I promise that you would.

      • I would not. End of story.

  9. People who are not like us will never understand picky eating, so no use to bicker with people who do not even want to listen to us.

  10. Wow…I'm embarrassed for all of you who are so JUDGEMENTAL!! I am blessed to have gotten over picky eating as a child.I love most foods but I was a "traditional picky eater" not a restricted/selective eater. As a mother of 3 children, I have one who loves to eat and try anything (but started out picky), 1 who is a completely restricted eater (age 14) and has NO control over how food tastes to him and 1 who only marginally likes to eat. NOT ALL PICKY EATERS are alike. Not all will be blessed like Titus with having the "break through" moment at camp no matter how starved they are! Narrow minded comments serve no purpose. Spend less time being so hostile and throwing stones at people with a disorder you clearly know nothing about. Why do you feel this is about "you" if you don't have the problem???

    Tadah, it would serve you to work on your bitterness from your first marriage. Clearly if this was the reason you left your husband you are very selfish and shallow. Again, your ex-husband's eating issues are not about YOU.

  11. I was a picky eater. I started exercising and now love most foods.

    I have to admit that I would have a serious gag reflex for things like turnip, brussel sprouts, even beans and almost throwing up! It is funny, salty greasy french fries were never a problem.
    After marrying my wife I started forcing myself to eat these foods (starting with a spoon full) and while I didn't enjoy them I am enjoying the health benefits of them. I now don't mind them and don't find them gagging me any more.

    Please don't swear at me because I overcame this! I am not judgemental, I was a picky eater and changed and there is hope that you can change too! I am not hostile, it is your life. It is you who are being hostile because you don't want to admit the problem may be yourself!
    It is a sad state when pop-psychology is telling us that you are what you are and can never change. There is always hope unless you want to make excuses. "The Truth shall set you free!"

  12. I would agree that some people are able to make changes. I have no issues after being picky as a child. I think the important part for everyone is to try and accept people and not judge them because they don't eat the way you and I do. To respond that people are spoiled and not grateful because they are selective in the foods their palate will allow them to accept is just not caring. Some people have a definite and legitimate anxiety related to eating…my son included. Their theory reminds me of someone who suggests a severely depressed person just "snap out of it".

  13. I'm considered a picky eater by my friends and family. Ok, maybe not as bad as described above, meaning I do eat some vegetables and fruits. I feel it's important for me to specify that I'm definitely not a fan of fast food but that I do enjoy the occasional French fries. I've very rarely turned down an opportunity to taste something new but it's not often a positive experience. In my efforts to lead a healthy life style I've tried to force my self to eat many different foods.

  14. I think it's interesting that they want to explore the notion that picky eating is "nature, not nurture", while the comedian quoted above only has a 'natural' palette for completely unnatural foods like hot dogs, hamburgers and fries. Poor soul.

  15. I've often wondered if there was a correlation between picky eating and certain personality traits, like openness to experience and neuroticism. These traits tend to be temperamental (as in, nature, not nurture), so it wouldn't surprise me if they came along with certain genetic differences in taste buds or neural pathways. Food for thought… (pun intended)

    To those who are rude about such people, think about how you would feel if nothing tasted good and noone understood why. I had a friend who lost his sense of taste due to a side effect of prescription medication. He stopped attending events that revolved around food (which most social events do) and became quite isolated for a while.

  16. If we look at the diets in most of the world (and in all of history up to the 20th century), they are extremely simple and limited. Most people grew up eating a diet of two or three starches, whatever grows nearby, and meat or fish found locally, all cooked very simply. It is a very new thing to be eating the cuisines of the world, and it may be causing more food allergies, and intolerances.
    If some people retain the natural revulsion for eating what is unfamiliar, this is hardly surprising. The world has changed, but the protective instincts that kept ancestors from eating poison don't necessarily disappear completely in a few generations. Perhaps it is the rapid pace of change that is the issue, not the people who are made uncomfortable by it.

    The level of emotion in this debate suggests that more is at stake than what to make for dinner. Is it change vs stability, freedom vs nannyism, rich vs poor, ??? What makes you so angry about other people's food choices?

  17. I was once a very picky eater. Meals at large family gatherings would make me anxious, because I would inevitably become the center of attention when someone questioned why I had so little on my plate. I remember Black Sundays…

    For me, it all changed when I left home for university and had to cook for myself, and nearly starved. Now when I visit home, I'll happily eat pretty much anything, and am grateful for it. That said, I have no problem sympathizing with adults who live with this problem.

  18. The question is whether this is nature or nurture, and to what extent it can be changed. A certain amount of pickiness is fine, and can even be considered a virtue of refined taste (and a way to remain healthy and at a proper weight, although a preference for french fries would probably not achieve that end).

    Once the pickiness becomes detrimental to one's life, however, then there is strong impetus to change it. Obviously, one can force oneself to eat food one finds disgusting (or does not even consider food), but can one re-program one's own reaction of disgust? Can parents modify this behaviour when it first shows itself in their children?

    • Thank you Steve!

  19. Picky eaters disgust me. Eat what you have and be grateful.
    This is only a problem in society of plenty. There is no picky eaters when there is a famine. Ever wonder why?

    • You've already made your point and have said that there is no "picky eating" in the third world, we did hear you the first time. The sheer fact that you are "disgusted" by someone who is a picky eater only says that you have your own issues that you need to work on. It must be a sad life you leave being SO judgmental towards something you clearly do not understand. But at the end of the day, how does it affect YOU if someone else eats differently? You have the option to choose who your friends are and if you want nothing to do with someone who is picky, then so be it, but keep your continuous negativity to yourself.

  20. I am a picky eater, but not by choice. I developed food allergies as an adult. Has anyone considered that these "picky eaters" are actually listening to their bodies……maybe it is a food sensitivity or allergy.

  21. Hey everyone just wanted to say this is an excellent article and has boosted my own self-esteem and confidence to atleast expand my food-palate. I find that my finicky eating is strictly the problem that every food i try seems to simply activate the "gag" relfex whether i tell myself to just get "over it". I applaude this website and researchers for doing what they are doing, as if it were up to me and my eating habits like many others i would probably live off of bread seeing as it doesnt gag me. Sorry folks but there doesnt seem to be a "1 pill fixes it all" and by the looks it isnt coming out soon, The holy grail to us finicky eaters :P :) Thanks again and i wish luck to all of you, Wish me luck as well ;)

  22. PART 1
    I've been a picky eater for the majority of my life, and believe me, if I could just "choose" not to be a picky eater, I would. But it's not that easy. I don't understand why some of you think that it's our own fault as well as our parents' faults for us being the way we are. My parents tried to get me to eat as a child, not making me substitute dishes and threatening to take away things if I didn't eat. The reality of it is, I would rather sit at the table with my stomach growling long after everyone else had finished eating than eat what my family was eating. As I got older and nothing changed, my family didn't know what else to do, and they didn't want me to starve, so they started to let me make other dishes during meals. They tried though, and I'm not the way I am today because they "gave into my every command."

  23. PART 2
    Also, I can't control the way my mind thinks about food. I'm very sensitive to texture and I like things that are smooth. I gag on foods that are chunky and fatty and I gag every time I try to eat something that's new to me. I realize that there are people in other parts of the world that are starving and would love to eat the foods that I despise, and I feel bad about that. But, I believe that this IS a disorder, and it should be taken seriously, just as any other disorder would be. As picky eating adults, we can't help that we're picky, and maybe people should start to be a little more understanding to this problem that thousands of people experience. And by the way, I don't ignore the fact that I'm picky and try to brush it off. I go see a dietician and I try to try new foods. I'm trying to change my diet, as i'm sure many other picky eaters are too, but it's not easy. Actually, that's an understatement. It's extremely hard and frusterating, and sometimes it seems impossible.

  24. "Marsha D. Marcus, chief of the Behavioral Medicine Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and one of the lead investigators on the study says, picky eaters tend to fall into one of three groups: those with taste issues, those who have never had a real interest in food, and a third group who have had traumatic or aversive experiences with food."

    From this quote from the article, it sounds like some "picky" adult eaters have legitimate reasons to eat so selectively. I wonder how many of these people, particularly the ones with taste issues & the group with traumatic/aversive experiences with food, have some sort of sensory integration disorder. Or gag reflux disorder. Or mouth coordination & swallowing dysfunction disorder. And for gosh sakes, change the name from picky eater to something that gives a person with this food disorder some dignity. And might there possibly be a connection between the toddler who's extremely selective about what/she eats & an adult with extreme food selectivity issues.

  25. Picky Eater…this sounds like another mental disorder …Before modern times I doubt this condition existed…if it did, these picky eaters would have died naturally of starvation and they wouldn't be able to procreate and that would be the end of that.
    We are meant to eat mostly veg and fruit and some meat – many of these 'picky eaters' eat crap, hot dogs and processed foods that our great grandparents didn't recognize….how would these picky eaters survived through out history which is loaded with plague and wars and famine etc.

  26. It is such a shame the western world have developed such habits, not only is it harming the individual but it is putting a strain the health service.

    I grow my own veg with my kids, when they see the fruit and veg develop and grow and they have nurtured it they always want to eat it because it is their own hard work which has produced it. We need to fundamentally change the way we as a nation live to inspire our children to life a healthier more self sufficient lifetsyle.

  27. Hey there,

    My name is Rebecca and I'm a Casting Producer for the TLC show Freaky Eaters. We are launching into our second season and we are looking for ADULT PICKY EATERS for the show!

    For more info, send an email to with your name, age, number, and description of your eating habits.

    Thanks so much and have a great day!

  28. I am of the same as the people you described in this article. My name is Mckenzie, the only food I really eat is: Pizza, hot dogs, fries, spaghetti (Only spaghetti noodles, only one kind of pasta sauce), bacon, pancakes, and that's pretty much it meal-wise. I feel sick upon looking at foods i feel I dislike, and gag when I even put a new type of food in my mouth. An example of how it almost crumbled my current relationship is I went to dinner with my girlfriends parents, thinking I could 'suck it up,' and be normal for their sake. I couldn't as much as nibble on a single piece of food on the dishes!
    I am 20 years old, weighing in at 130-140 pounds, and if anybody would like to share similarities, or if there are answers or studies upon this I would love to be contacted! Please contact me at, I will not be reading any further comments!
    Thank you for posting this article and showing me I'm not the only one with this problem!

  29. I just discovered I’m not alone in this. I must say my case is no where as severe. I do look at photos of myself during grade school and see a girl who looks emaciated. The doctor told my mother “if she’s hungry enough, she’ll eat what’s put in front of her” for years. I wasn’t old enough to explain that the food on my plate would make me gag and vomit, that I wanted to eat and was hungry. Very hungry. She also took me to doctors because I was always tired and lethargic. No wonder. Fortunately my kids not inherit this from me, but I was definitely prepared for it and would not have let them go to bed hungry. I don’t blame my mother, but she should have seen this was a bigger issue than just being “picky.”

  30. I am disgusted at the comments left here by people who obviously don’t get this. This aversion to taste, smell and texture of food is absolutely not a choice and it impairs the happiness of our lives. Do you think I enjoyed going to bed hungry as a child, with a mom angry with me for wasting a plate of food every night? Do you think we enjoy watching other people eating and loving the food in front of them? Finding dozens of options on the menu delicious sounding while we can’t find a thing we could gag down? Please, this is not a choice. Have some understanding next time you are in the company of a so-called picky eater. There’s a lot more to it, and it has nothing to do with not caring the world is full of starving people. We have enough guilt and torment. Don’t add to it.

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