Thursday, May 10, 2012

I Must Ask . . . Are You A Picky Eater?

Pickiness, natural skepticism of new foods, prevented the cave baby from putting just about anything – like a poisonous berry – in baby’s mouth. –Stacie Billis, One Hungry Mama

Thank you to everyone who left a comment about last week's question on creativity. I loved what you all had to say and was really surprised that only one person declared themselves to be a color-outside-of-the-lines kind of a person. For a while there, it was a fairly close race between those who colored inside the lines and those who did a little of both, but at the end the color-inside-the-lines pulled ahead. I'd dare say that even the strictest of the color-inside-the-lines person likes to break the rules every once in a while, though. I thought my dad summed it up nicely by suggesting that if you draw your own lines and then color within them you are creative enough to make something beautiful and disciplined enough to see it through to completion. Thanks, dad. As a side note, I really hit the jackpot in the creative gene department. Both my parents are incredibly talented and creative people.

Now for today's topic. I'm sorry I'm a little late getting to the party. I got distracted. My question was sparked by a post by my wonderful friend, Jenna, on picky eating. I hope you won't mind if I recycle my comment on her post into a post of my own, because I really enjoyed her thoughts on picky eating. If you have a minute, click on over and see what she had to say.

I am definitely a picky eater and I think that stems from taste and texture. I find eating to be pleasurable as well as necessary and as far as taste goes, I like things to be "just right." I like consistency. I like to be able to count on my food not being merely familiar, but on tasting the same every time. If I've planned to make something and don't have all the ingredients, I usually will wait to make it until I can get to the store. No substitutions allowed :lol: and since I'm doing the cooking, I suppose I can be as fussy as I want, right? If the texture is weird {as defined by me} I'd really rather not eat it. If the combination of taste and texture is weird {like in the case of cashew fruit :paranoid:}, count me out.

My question to the universe at large is this: why do the things that are supposed to be good for you not have a corresponding good taste on the "yucky-to-yummy" scale? Take for instance vegetables. They are supposed to be really good for you, but in order to make them taste good you have to add all kinds of things that are bad for you, like butter and salt. Mind you, I do serve veggies at dinner every night, usually green beans or broccoli, because those are the two I like best as stand-alone side-dishes. But my favorite way to eat vegetables is in a casserole type dish, where there is a sauce and little bit of seasoning to disguise them. I love to make chicken or beef pot pie, which has corn, carrots, peas, green beans and sometimes lima beans in it. I also like to make minestrone, which has all sorts of vegetables I wouldn't eat by themselves, but with spices and seasonings and all the flavors mixing together, I love it.

While we're in the general neighborhood of vegetables, salad is another thing I don't care much for. When they ask, "soup or salad" I choose soup {I'd rather say neither; if you eat the soup there's no room for the main course} because I just do not like iceberg lettuce. You might as well go out in the back yard and eat grass for all the nutrition you're getting. And it is about as digestible as grass. In the interest of making more healthy food choices, I've been doing salads for my lunch a few times a week, and I like the "fancy" salad mixes {which, interestingly enough, have dandelion greens in them, but they call them by a different name so you won't know you're eating weeds} mixed half-and-half with spinach. I add mandarin oranges, cucumber slices, a little bit of Parmesan cheese and grilled chicken on top and then homemade poppy seed dressing, which is just yummy. I'm sure the "yummy" factor I add to the greens more than cancels out the "nutrition" factor, because in my opinion the only reason to eat a salad is for the dressing. Which, coincidentally, is another thing I'm picky about :rofl:. Ranch dressing? No thank you. But I digress. I was ranting about iceberg lettuce. When I eat out, I ask to substitute spinach for iceberg lettuce and if they don't have spinach, I just have them leave the lettuce off. It's not really a matter of nutrition though. I just like it better that way.

Over the years, I've grown less picky about certain things like tomatoes and mushrooms. But seafood is something I have never changed my mind about. I just do not like it except for tuna fish, which is sort of ironic since it is the "fishiest" tasting fish there is. If we're at a party and there's a shrimp cocktail, I will eat one or two shrimp with lots of sauce to disguise the flavor, but the fishy flavor and rubbery texture are not my favorite. Sometime when I was between the ages of 14 and 18 my mom served fish sticks for dinner and I pretty much refused to eat them. She gave me the choice of eating the fish sticks or doing dishes {for seven} by myself. I picked the dishes. Now that I'm an adult I try to keep a more open mind about things. When Mr. Bug and I go out to dinner and he orders fish, I always try a little bite just to make sure I'm not being ridiculous about the whole thing. Every time I try it, it is confirmed that I do not like seafood.

On a positive nutritional note, I'm looking forward to the summer season, when fresh-from-the-garden produce is abundant. I am trying to be more health-conscious of what I eat. I try {but do not always succeed} to avoid simple carbs and instead have fruits and veggies for snacks. I love to munch on those little clementine oranges, grapes, or carrot and celery sticks. I'm looking forward to when the watermelon in the produce department are bigger than a softball and cost less than $7. I like to cut it up into cubes so it is ready to have at dinner or eat as a snack any time. We go through about a watermelon a week during the summer. Corn-on-the-cob, bought from the local farmer's produce stands, is another favorite summer treat I'm excited for. I can't wait for the nectarines on the neighbor's tree and the raspberries in my yard to be ready. I love zucchini dishes and have six or seven favorite zucchini recipes that I'll make throughout the summer.

On a not-so-nutritional, but still positively positive note, I love most sweets. There are a few exceptions. I don't like nuts in most things {banana nut bread being the exception to the exception} and I don't like raisins that have been cooked. No oatmeal raisin cookies for me or raisins in the cinnamon rolls, thankyouverymuch. I do like raisins on their own {I have a few little snack-sized boxes of them in my drawer at work, in case I get hungry} and I also like them in vanilla ice cream {something I discovered while living in Brasil; I know it sounds weird, but it is good}. And some days,chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup and Oreo crumbs on top is completely called for.

Now that I've talked your ear off, I must ask . . . are you a picky eater? I think we all are on some level, whether it is about taste or texture, nutritional content, or based on principle {vegetarians choose not to eat certain foods based on principle and that is being picky every bit as much as people who choose not to eat foods based on taste}. Unfortunately, people with food allergies or intolerances are forced to be picky eaters, so I'm throwing a category in for that too, although I know it's not voluntary. Food allergies are one of those things in life I just don't get. I'm certain that if I had a gluten intolerance I would miss white bread most of any of the things I would have to give up. Vote in the poll and tell me if you're picky too.


regan said...

I copied my comment from Jenna's blog! Oh yes.....picky here, too! But mine is usually about texture. I don't do any kind of slimey.....raw fish, oysters, flan, melted cheese.....all gross! The commercials that show pizza with the string of cheese 2 feet long.....makes me gag! Also, absolutely no fat or gristle on meat or chicken.....if there is the slightest bit.....I'm done with it! Nothing worse than biting into a piece of fat! Yuk! I've had 1 bite of steak in my life, and the chewing of it nearly made me's a texture thing. I have a tough time even sitting at the same table when my hubby orders prime rib, or others get calimari......ugh!

But taste is huge on the list for me, too! Having been a dieter for most of my new motto is: If it doesn't taste amazing, then I'm not wasting my calories on it! Of course, that gets me into trouble with sweets.....cuz they are almost ALL amazing! But I truly love veggies, that helps!

Anonymous said...

I am a moderately picky eater. There are a few things that I don't like, but I try new things and have been surprised at what I do like. There are a couple of things that I like the taste of, but don't like how it looks, so I tend not to make them too often, which even I think is strange.

My husband is the most un-picky eater that I know. He will eat anything. This is good since for work he travels all around the world. He thinks it is fun to go to a restaurant where he can't read the language, point to a random menu item and see what he gets. I am not that brave. I want to know what I'm eating.

When we lived in Korea, small restaurants tended to specialize in one type of meat and they put a picture of the animal on their sign. We would look for the cow, pig, duck (which I found out I really liked), chicken, etc.

Paulette said...

I am a picky eater because of food allergy and nutritional value (I couldn't check both), but in my former life when I could eat anything, I did and was not picky. Oh, I had preferences (I hear you on the raisins), but you know what's weird is that a lot of my food preferences have shifted over time. As a kid, cooked cabbage and German chocolate cake (with the gooey caramel coconut stuff on top) and salmon all squicked me out in a major way. As I got older, cilantro was another one. It tasted like soap to me. Fast forward a few years and I like all of that stuff and then some. Sometimes it's a matter of trying it more than once and at different points in life to see if the same biases hold true.

Shay said...

I'm a picky eater. And Im totally with you on the salad thing. If it isn't slathered in a dressing I'm not really interested.

Anything that doesnt require chewing makes me want to hurl....

mom said...

I didn't consider myself a picky eater because I love most vegetables and fruits and most of them just plain is good for me. I like some fish and love sweets. however I haven't eaten a hamburger for years because I decided I didn't like them because of the fat and I don't cook other dishes with hamburger in it very often either. I hate to bite into a piece of fat in any kind of meat. now that I am eating healther I can taste the fat in baked goods and that allowes me to taste and throw away or avoid in the first place I think that I am picky after all, but if it is healthy I like it.

Janicca said...

AAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHA! I think it is hilarious the we are sooooo alike!! I could say almost the same things about my food tastes and preferences, iceburg lettuce, fish, ranch, all of it! My friend who did the food for my wedding. laughs at me all the time about my weird food tastes, but now I'm thinking it is hereditary :).

hardhatcat said...

I'm currently a fairly picky eater but that is more the baby growing in my belly being fussy about what i eat more than anything else at the moment.
I do have some food allergies, but those things are easy to avoid here in Australia. Not so easy when i'm O/S, particularly in the USA. I have to avoid high Fructose food (i have fructose malabsorption), so for me fruit is often not a good option and USA foods sweetened with HF corn syrup is a complete no-no. The only problem i have with it here is avoiding Southern Indian food that has coconut milk in it. Northern Indian food is usually fine though. i just have to check first.

Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet said...

Looks like I am the odd one out here. Serve it to me and I will just about eat it. Except, I do NOT like olives, or raw oysters, bake em or fry em put them on crackers with some horseradish good to go. I won't eat sauerkraut by itself, by put it on a Reuben with thousand island dressing and I will eat it. Don't care for yellow mustard, but love honey mustard. I don't care for the "buffalo" flavored anything, but change the flavor up a bit and I am there. Now Buffalo Burgers, are to die for!!! The best tasting burger I have ever had, with Sonic's Fire Island burger coming in a close second with it's Habanero sauce on it. MMMMM. Now your making me hungry.

Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet said...

Oh, I do avoid anything with the chemical Aspatame in it though. That stuff will kill you, and it gives me massive migraines almost instantly.

Jennifer Lovell said...

What a bonus, getting to read all of the comments on your blog! (I honestly thought I'd get more than I did, but oh well...little by little...maybe someday I'll have as many readers as you, you popular girl, you!) I loved reading everyone else's input. It's funny to learn that everyone seems to be picky in their own way. Even those who say "I'm not picky" seems to amend their statement with "but I can't stand... and I hate..." ha ha : ).

I loved Regan's statement and it completely represents me: "If it doesn't taste amazing, then I'm not wasting my calories on it! Of course, that gets me into trouble with sweets.....cuz they are almost ALL amazing! But I truly love veggies, that helps!" I just wish some vegetables weren't so sour. Like celery, carrots (I prefer them cooked, makes them sweeter), green peppers, and almost all lettuce! Iceberg isn't usually sour, but I agree with you--it's not worth it taste-wise. But like I said in my post, I'll eat them all anyway, if it can help negate some of the sweets that I enjoy every day ; ).