In recent years, adult picky eating started getting some attention. Like I mentioned in my introductory post, MSNBC, ABC News, as well as numerous other blogs, news outlets, and medical health professionals have begun to opine and raise awareness of grown ups who never outgrew their childhood staples. It is somewhat of a relief as a picky eater to know that even if I am crazy because of my fussiness over food, I am at least not alone and have plenty of company. Yes, I am one of those who has avoided social events, especially more formal ones, because of fear over what I would eat, or, worse, unwanted over attention from someone who noticed my lack of eating. In college for instance, I attended the equivalent of a college-level prom with a group of friends, only to find nothing on the plate of pork, vegetables, and lumpy potatoes that I could stomach, so I happily ate from the bread basket. But then came the embarrassment of the wait staff asking me why I didn’t eat my food and whether something was wrong with it. I also remember another college occasion where I was invited by my major’s teaching staff to attend a dinner at the college president’s mansion. I happily obliged, only to be served pork (as you can tell, this is on my do-not-like list), green beans, and some form of red potato. Firm in my decision to not again be embarrassed by wait staff asking why I wasn’t eating, especially in the company of my professors and college administration, instead, I tried to hide the gagging as I forced down the repulsive food, trying to hide the tears in my eyes. I managed half of the meal, just enough to avoid any confrontations from servers. When I got married, in fact, there was no chance that particular social event would be stained by attention to what I had not eaten; I ordered chicken fingers and fries for myself while our guests feasted on prime rib or fish.
The links above provide a good starting point for anyone wanting to know more about picky eaters, but while we can establish that adult picky eating is real (whether or not it deserves the title of an eating disorder or mental illness is debatable, at least based on my approved food list), the challenge for me has not been limited to awkwardness during social occasions. Instead, it has been losing weight and getting and staying healthy with such particular taste buds. I am actually quite content with what I will or will not eat. It has become part of my life, something to which I have adjusted and most of my friends and family just accept as part of me. Some of them will even design their menus around me when invited to dinner. No, I don’t really want to “cure” my “eating disorder.” I am fine with it. My body, on the other hand, is not. At 5’0″, I weighed about 112 pounds when I graduated high school — a healthy BMI of 21.9. Since then, I have yo-yo’d between there and my peak of 205 pounds while full-term with my 2nd little girl — a BMI of 40. My problem is that my 2nd little girl is two and a half and I still weigh just under 160 pounds and am thus still clinically obese.
I want to be thin. I want to be healthy. I want to know my great-grandchildren. But I know that things have to change for that to happen. I know what I should be eating: healthy fats, limited grain products, plenty of vegetables, a few fruits, limited if any red meat, modest amounts of fish and/or poultry (again, if any if consuming other protein and fat sources). My problem is I don’t like them. I despise seafood. I can’t stand the smell of it, let alone put it to my lips. I did try shrimp once after a few glasses of wine, and the texture just about did me in. Olive oil… nuts… kale… I just can’t stand them! And that is why I can’t lose weight. Ever trying keeping your caloric intake to about 1400-1600 calories a day while eating things like cheese-flavored crackers and boxed pasta meals? Oh, you get to eat maybe 1.5 cups of food all day long. Basically, it is starving yourself. Who could live like that? Not me. I can do it for a while, but eventually something has to give. It is not a very nutritious way to live. How can I lose weight when I like hardly anything?
That is what this journey will be about. Answering the question, “How can I lose weight when I like hardly anything?” by crossing out “hardly anything” and replacing it with “a variety of foods.” There are so many wonderful lifestyle choices out there for healthy living if only I could put the ingredients to my list. I want to try a Mediterranean diet. I want to try juicing. I want to try vegan dishes. Maybe none of those lifestyles will work for me, but I will never know unless I can get past the fear of the foods and give them a try. I do know for sure that my deep-fried, Western diet is not working. At the age of 31, I am doing myself a disservice by feeling so unhealthy and bloated. I should be in the prime of my life. I will get there. I just need to convince my taste buds that we are going to do it together.
I have taken the first step by committing my goals to writing. Next, I’m going to start researching where to begin. How does a picky eater begin to train themselves to like new things? How long does it take? Will I get physically ill with gagging or vomiting? What if I keep trying new things and still don’t like them? I don’t know what will happen, but I do know the journey will be documented here. Next time, I hope to have a better idea of where to begin. (I’m already feeling the anxiety of someday putting fish to my lips….)