Picky Eaters: Why Adults Sometimes Eat Like Children
By Rachel Belle
Almost everyone seems to dislike at least one food, but
some picky kids turn into incredibly picky adults.
“The list of things I will not eat is much longer than
the things I will eat,” says Ron & Don listener Kathi
Winslow. “I eat no seafood, no vegetables, really no fruit
except for apples, and that’s only in a pie.”
Kathi says eating dinner at someone’s house can be a
“I’m really good at moving things around my plate to
make it look like I’ve eaten. My husband, we have a thing
worked out where he’ll hurry up and eat half his salad so
I can hurry up and switch mine over while nobody’s
Stephanie Lucianovic wrote a new book called
Suffering Succotash: A Picky Eater’s Quest To
Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate. She went
from being an extremely picky adult eater to a cookbook
author and food writer. She offers some really interesting
ideas about why an adult might grow up hating fruits and
“When babies start to get used to things other than
formula or milk, and they start taking in solids, they can
gag, understandably, because it’s a new sensation. When
you gag it’s your body’s way of protecting you from
choking or dying. So when you gag on something, it does
send a message to your brain that the food is dangerous,
and maybe you don’t like it, you should stay away from it,
it could kill you.”
Which might explain why Kathi survives on granola bars
and Taco Time tacos, no lettuce, extra cheese please.
“I’ve never eaten a vegetable or a fruit. I might have
before I knew any better. For as long as I can remember,
probably before age five, I have not made the choice to
eat those things.”
The only food that I have never liked are raw tomatoes.
“Tomatoes, I found, are one of the most hated foods and
it had to do with texture,” Stephanie explains. “Sometimes
I wonder if it goes back to the idea that tomatoes are a
member of the night shade family, and night shade, in some
forms, is deadly for us. They used to think tomatoes were
deadly because they were red.”
Stephanie says some of our eating habits have to do
with these kinds of animal instincts that are buried deep
down inside of us.
“Kids not liking their foods to touch, they think that
might go back to this instinctual reaction: If your foods
are touching, or combined, it means they’ve been
contaminated and therefore are poisonous, so don’t eat
’em. So finding out information like that, was like, yes!
That explains it!”
She says it’s important that adventurous food lovers,
like myself, don’t chastise picky eaters.
“Picky eaters are not picky eaters because they choose
to be. This is really something that can’t be controlled.
Picky eaters are not doing this to annoy the non-picky.
This is just something that happens to people, for
whatever reason, and we have to move beyond it.
For those who actually want to change their eating
habits, Stephanie offers some tips that got her eating
leafy greens and Brussels sprouts.
“Figure out what it is you don’t like about it. Is it
the flavor or is it the texture? Whatever it is, try to
change it. There’s not one way to eat, say, Brussels
sprouts. I don’t like them steamed, I only like them
roasted. You can change the texture from different cooking
methods. Changing the flavor is adding something else you
like, in my case it was cheese. Like Parmesan shaved over
it. You can step-by-step begin to change your association
with that food.”
Meanwhile, Kathi says she’s raising her kids to like
all foods. But she’ll take a multi-vitamin over a spinach
salad any day.