For as long as I can remember I have had a bad relationship with food. I don’t remember liking a range of foods as a child and honestly, we didn’t have the most varied of diets. My Mum worked long hours in a pub and we were never a well off family. ‘Proper’ home cooked meals weren’t really a thing in our house and if they were, I only sort of remember eating roast dinners. We did always go to my Nanna’s for dinner on a Wednesday and that would be the same kind of thing a lot of the time.
My childhood up until around maybe age 9 or 10 is somewhat hazy for various reasons so there’s probably a lot I’m forgetting. Mum probably did cook more than I think she did but it’s definitely not something I can recall. Something that does get stuck in my head though was picking at fish fingers to make sure there was no bones and having horrible discussions about what hot dogs were really made from (and none of it was actually true).
When we talk about, or read anything about picky eaters, I think we tend to associate that with toddlers or children. I have spoken before about Erin being a fussy toddler and how we’re trying to make sure that isn’t something that sticks. The truth is, I don’t want Erin to grow up like me, a 33 year old picky eater.
When I say I’m a picky eater it’s not an exaggeration. Even writing the words makes me feel full of shame and like it’s a dirty little secret I’ve been hiding away.
Not liking what most people would think of normal foods made being a child quite difficult. Going to friend’s houses for tea was near impossible because I wouldn’t eat anything that resembled a normal meal. Once I went for tea at a friend’s and their Mum couldn’t believe I wouldn’t eat peas. I remember that day clear as anything. I wanted to cry because it was like I wasn’t normal.
I couldn’t really tell you what I ate as a teenager. My sister once took me out with her friends to a restaurant but the only way she would is if I tried jacket potato, beans and a vanilla milkshake. Before this day I can’t ever remember eating or drinking any of those things. I would avoid going anywhere with friends if it involved eating something I wasn’t sure of and especially if there was a chance that I would actually have to try something new.
My picky eating habits have never really gotten better and I’m not sure why how or why I got stuck in such a position. I think I just got to a place where I was past trying new things and at this point, I think I was too scared and too ashamed to say I didn’t eat a lot. When I first visited Toronto in 2016 I tried pasta for what I can only say was the first time. If I had it before then I didn’t know about it. It must sound so silly to most people to hear that I, at 20 years old, tried pasta for the first time. The pasta was in a white sauce and also had carrots, broccoli and peas but I wouldn’t even touch the latter two. Now, I eat pasta quite a lot so without having that, the list of things I eat would be even smaller.
If that wasn’t bad enough, I don’t know if at any point I have eaten or even tried lasagne, tomato based pastas or a chicken pie. Not once have I tried a stir fry. I’ve never eaten a whole range of fruit or vegetables and I probably couldn’t even name a lot of them.
I could probably list an absolute maximum of 20 meals that I will eat. That might be pushing it actually. The problem now is that I have gotten myself into such a position, and such a state, about food that trying new things actually scares me. It doesn’t matter what people say or how nice someone says something is, I just cannot bring myself to do it. It’s not just being a picky eater any more. There is an actual fear and worry of trying something new and if I’m put in that position I want to cry most of the time. I wish I could say this is only in public places but it’s at home too.
Because of my food issues we struggle as a family and we don’t eat a range of foods. I worry how this will affect Erin growing up. John loves food and eats pretty much anything and he gets stuck eating the same thing over and over again with me because he doesn’t want to eat separate meals, no matter how much I say he should.
Being an adult picky eater means constantly worrying about if there is something you can eat at any restaurant, asking for special cooking instructions and things to be left off a meal. It means making sure you can eat somewhere when you go on holiday. It means making excuses about why you can’t go out for a meal with other people sometimes or going to a restaurant event for work and worrying for every single second that you’re there.
I would love more than anything to eat a more varied diet, to try something new and be able to go for an Indian with my husband. In reality, something stops me from even trying and it’s easier to just stick to what I know.
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