Though picky eating is generally associated with toddlers and young children, many adults also have a hard time eating a variable diet filled with foods from each food group. If you've realized your picky eating problem and want to make changes, you've already taken the first step toward improving your health. Adult picky eaters are often deficient in key nutrients because they avoid many of the foods that provide the vitamins and minerals they need. Making a few changes to how you prepare and serve your food might be all you need to expand your palate and discover new foods you enjoy.
Eat with other people. Many adults are embarrassed by their picky eating and are more likely to at least try something they don't think they'll like if their friends and family are watching, according to Linda Piette, author of "Just Two More Bites!: Helping Picky Eaters Say Yes to Food." Order something new from the menu when you eat at a restaurant or serve yourself something new when you eat at someone's house.
Add one new food to your diet each week. Most adult picky eaters avoid certain foods because of their texture or appearance rather than how they actually taste. Start out by taking one bite and gradually work up to eating an entire serving of the offending food. If you discover that you enjoy the taste of the food, repeated exposure might help you overcome your texture aversions. Continue adding a new food each week and over time, you're likely to find more foods you're willing to eat.
Eat three bites before you turn up your nose at a food. Tell yourself that if you still don't like the food after three bites, you can stop eating it. Because it can take more than one bite to decide if you enjoy the flavor of a certain food, taking three bites is one way to help you find new foods you're willing to eat.
Combine foods you don't like with foods you do enjoy. If you don't like milk, try adding a squirt of low-sugar chocolate syrup to your glass. If you skip certain fruits, try mixing them into low-fat yogurt. When you're eating something you know you like, you're more likely to accept foods you may not enjoy. You might discover there are many more foods you do like when they're combined with other ingredients rather than eaten plain.
If you know another adult picky eater, join forces to overcome your eating habits. You can provide each other with support and encourage one another to keep trying.
Don't expect to overcome your picky eating overnight. Finding foods you like takes time, and you may not enjoy everything you try.
If you're concerned about your picky eating or have a physical reaction, such as nausea, when you eat foods you don't like, see your doctor. You might benefit from therapy, which your doctor can help you obtain.
- Wall Street Journal: No Age Limit on Picky Eating
- Psychology Today: The Grown-up Picky Eaters Club
- PsychCentral: Are You A Picky Eater or Selective Eater?
- Just Two More Bites!: Helping Picky Eaters Say Yes to Food; Linda Piette
- Suffering Succotash: A Picky Eater's Quest to Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate; Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic