My husband doesn’t like “mushy” foods like oatmeal or pudding — yet he eats enough bananas to put Chiquita out of business.
About a half dozen of my friends (mostly male, but some female, too) won’t eat tomatoes in their pure form — but love salsa, tomato sauce, ketchup.
Are these people disordered eaters? No, not at all. They are just particular about what they like. It’s a personal preference, a choice.
Similarly, I have always been drawn to brainy, computer science/engineer guys (I married one!) who are my stark opposite in terms of “right brain/left brain”. He’s the yin to my yang (with me being the more creative, artistic of the two of us). That’s my “personal preference.”
Anyway, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to expand my palate where food is concerned.
I was a picky kid, and my obsession with food on WW only made me pickier as an adult. Instead of genuinely not liking something as I did when I was a kid, I’d tell myself I didn’t like it so it was then “off-limits.”
Like I’d say, “Oh, I don’t like muffins,” when in reality I love the crunchy tops of muffins (Panera makes “muffies”), but wouldn’t want to waste 500 calories on a muffin! So I trained myself to think, “I don’t like muffins.”
Now, I see things differently. Some things are just not “worth it” to me (most salty snacks, fried foods) and others (cheesecake, chocolate) totally are.
Now, I’m trying not to be so limited by food choices themselves, but rather limited by how much of said choices (i.e., a moderate portion) I eat. I think that makes sense; enjoyment within moderation.
Some tastes are based on outside factors — such as DE driving the “likes” train.
But even regular, non-DE tastes change over time.
I was just sharing with a friend who doesn’t eat seafood how I only started eating seafood a few years ago. My mom’s allergic to shellfish and my dad’s not too into seafood, so we didn’t grow up on it.
But one day like five years ago, my husband convinced me to just try it , at an ocean-front restaurant high on the cliffs of the Pacific Coastal Highway (CA-1 in Central America) in El Salvador.
I was nervous at first to order fish, fearing I wouldn’t like it … but it was a white fish sauteed in garlic, lemon and olive oil, and it was delicious.
I surprised myself with how much I loved it. Now, there’s very little seafood I don’t like! (OK, I don’t like oysters, mussels, clams, calamari). In this case, I didn’t know, and just assumed I wouldn’t like it – so glad I gave it a chance!
(In case you’re interested, my fave seafood recipe, Baked Shrimp with Feta Cheese, can be found here, as depicted in the photo at the beginning of this post.)
Likewise, our tasted can be influenced by texture/color. For example, a friend of mine won’t eat green vegetables. He just won’t.
When I was sixteen, my aunt made me try grape leaves when we were in Greece. I gagged, and haven’t had one since.
And my husband once asked me to try a type of cheey, grayish mystery meat that he loves at a Brazilian churrascuria in San Salvador; he didn’t tell me til I’d swallowed it, but it was chicken heart!! (Hence, the gag reflex once again).
And I used to dislike bananas because of their texture. But over time, I’ve realized that so long as it’s a really ripe banana, it’s a great pre-gym energy-booster and it’s delicious stirred into oatmeal (esp with a dollop of PB, “Elvis-style”).
Though I’ve broadened my horizons over the years, I’m still a pretty picky eater. In Spanish, the word used to describe someone picky like me is “pilosa,” a word I find myself using — and apologizing for — when I’m ordering in Latin America.
My usual line before ordering is always, “Le disculpa, soy muy pilosa, pero … “ Excuse me, I’m sorry, but I am really picky …” and then I proceed to decline beans and rice (to my Salvadoran husband’s chagrin; I have never liked beans, rice, or tortillas!), add extra veggies or cheese or something.
I’m like Sally in When Harry Met Sally, for better or for worse.
I’ve pretty much always been a picky orderer and that hasn’t changed much now, even with my progress. While pickiness in the past lent itself to some disordered eating behaviors (being so black and white about food choices), I try to roll with it a little more now.
The thing is, we all have our own “schticks.” I think it’s good to be experimental, to challenge ourselves to try new things, to not let calorie counts or Points … or preconceived notions about a food (like my fear of fish) deter us from giving it a shot.
So long as we’re not using a “preference” to mask disoredered eating behaviors, as I talked about recently in relation to vegetarianism being the new ED for teens …
There are still some things I don’t like that I know everyone loves and I know are good for me: namely, hummus and avocado. I just can’t do it. I love me some tzatziki and pita, but for all my love of Mediterranean food, I just can’t stomach hummus. (Meanwhile, my husband loves it and makes it from scratch!)
My little brother is living in South Korea for the year, and he’ll try anything when it comes to food. He’s eaten fried grasshoppers, all kinds of interesting (unappetizing!) things. But he is immersed in a new culture and giving it a shot. He is excited to try octopus next — it’s not fried like calamari — it’s almost raw, he claims, like a ceviche,, my husband’s other fave. (He and my bro can go toe-to-toe for their food choices!)
I hope to set a good example for our children someday, where I continue to try new things and be open-minded. But I am still a creature of habit who loves eating the same things over and over, and always has.
I might never reach the levels of experimentation my brother or my husband have, but I am proud of myself for giving things a chance and not always ordering “safe” chicken on a salad every single time I go out to eat.
How about you? Are you willing to try new foods? Does DE/ED hold you back from trying something new? Or are your choices based more on a personal preference, as in, where you don’t like XYZ?