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The How-To Lounge: Dealing With a Picky Eater

As annoying as it may be, some people are just picky eaters. I used to be one and I know how frustrating it was for my parents who used to cook for me and my friends who ate out with me, so here are some tips to help cope with people who are fussy about what they eat.

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  • When you go out to dinner, avoid restaurants that are very specialized in one specific food. Picky eaters tend to like bland, safe food so stick to Italian or California Cuisine and choose a restaurant that has an extensive menu.
  • If your friend or family member pulls a Sally (from When Harry Met Sally), try not to get too agitated. Chances are they are just as embarrassed to order in that way as you are to witness it.
  • If you are hosting a dinner party, be sure to serve something a picky eater can eat. Keep in mind that even if he or she doesn't eat cheese, chances are they will be able to eat the crackers that accompany the cheese, or the veggies served with the dip, even if they avoid the dip altogether. You want to be accommodating, but you shouldn't feel the need to cater the entire menu to appease them.
  • It can be frustrating to dine out with people who are picky eaters, so if it becomes problematic for you or your friendship, simply choose other activities that don't involve a meal or have them pick where to eat.

If anyone else has other tips to offer, please share your suggestions below!


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hvanness331 hvanness331 9 years
My husband is incredibly picky. It's frustrating at dinner time when I find a recipe that I think he'll love, then I'll look over at his plate and he's moved half of the ingredients over to the side. I'm not going to go through life making a dinner for myself and another one for him. He's not very open to trying new things, but I'm figuring that when he gets hungry enough, he'll eat it.
Phunkometry Phunkometry 9 years
I think that people who are non-picky eaters needlessly make the problems of picky eaters their own. The fact that when I go out to a restaurant and there is only a limited number of things I want to or can eat (I have a seriously sensitive stomach)... well, that is my problem, not anyone else's. I come from an Italian family whose whole life revolves around food (seriously, dinner sometimes lasts for four or five hours). My father constantly says that the only way I have ever been a disappointment to him is because I won't just engorge myself with whatever is in front of me. (Well, actually, he phrases it differently. But still.) It really makes me angry. I'm defintely not against trying something (unless I know for sure that I will not like it [i.e. I have tried arugula. I hated it. I w ill not be eating it any time soon.] or it won't agree with me). Thankfully, my boyfriend eats anything and everything and has an endless appetite, so if I order a dish at a restaurant and I don't like a certain part of it, I don't have to feel embarrassed to have the waiter take it away with so much food on it. And if at dinner, there is something served that I don't like, I will just get up and make myself something that I know I'll eat. As far as I'm concerned, as long as I eat, it shouldn't be such a big deal. But, really, I've had enough with people getting mad at people for liking what they like!
onesong onesong 9 years
there's a huge difference between people who try things and decide they don't like them, and people who won't try things. to me, the non-tryers are the ridiculous ones. however, if you've given something a shot and you don't like it, that's your business! i used to be picky in the obnoxious way, until my boyfriend started me (like a little kid, lol) on the "just one bite and then you don't have to eat anymore." now i try everything because i've discovered such delicious foods that way.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I wouldnt date a picky eater, not because i am shallow but because it wouldnt be a good match and therefore would cause strife in the relationship.I couldnt imagine for the rest of my life dealing with someone who is picky. I am not a picky eater, and if i have a party at my house and picky eaters want to come? they can bring thier own darn food! I wont go out of my way to cater to someone elses tastes, i am buying the food that 99% of the people will eat, not spending money on food that only one person wants.
sarah-lynn sarah-lynn 9 years
I can't ever get my boyfriend to try new things...he's got such a weak stomach that even pepper can get too spicy for him. Chicken, Pizza, Pasta and pig is all he will touch, and it all has to be plain.
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
a big part of your life is spent eating and entertaining and such. picky eaters ARE really annoying. mostly because i don't really want to hear about your eating habits. when we are going out to eat and have to change where we are going because so and so "doesn't like that" or wrinkles their nose at everything on the menu or what other people are ordering it's rude. my mother was so picky that one time after going to several restaurants and her refusing each menu i drove to the grocery store and asked what she wanted "i don't know what they have" was her response. anything you want to make, help yourself :)
demeter demeter 9 years
I am the pickiest eater I have ever known. But boyfriends and friends deal with it alright, it's just my mom who has a problem with it. But I buy my own food so I don't see what her problem is. haha And it's true, I like bland and safe food, but I'm also a fan of ANYTHING Mexican!
leelee2112 leelee2112 9 years
My boyfriend is one of the pickiest eaters I know. It drives me crazy. He only eats pepperoni or cheese pizza, but not the brick oven kind, chicken fingers, hot dogs, hamburgers, steak if it has no kind of sauce on it, french fries, but not seasoned french fries, pasta with tomato sauce but only if the sauce has no chunks of vegetables in it, and vanilla ice cream. That is literally it, aside from certain breakfast foods like pancakes or french toast. He only ever drinks soda, refuses to touch milk, even for his cereal. His idea of a vegetable is a french fry, I made him eat a baby carrot once and it took him literally 15 minutes. He won't even try new things. He doesn't eat cheese, refuses to have anything to do with hot liquids, and hates anything spicy. Fortunately for him his metabolism is pretty good and he works out a lot so he's not overweight, but I'm just afraid of what is going to happen when he gets older. It is because of his food habits that I know I could never marry him. I know that sounds horrible, but imagine what it would be like. You couldn't ever go to a restaurant that didn't serve American food. How are you supposed to travel? How are you supposed to teach your kids to eat their vegetables if their father refuses to touch them? It may sound horrible, but food really affects your lifestyle. I just keep hoping that he'll grow out of this and learn to eat more foods...
manders202 manders202 9 years
It makes me feel so much better that there are other people who are labeled "picky eaters" because they can't eat a lot of foods because it will upset their stomach. Everytime I go out to eat with people or make myself dinner, I get made fun of for eating "plain" food or not ordering anything at all. I know there are people out there whose pickiness is all mental, and that doesn't bother me at all, but I bet a lot of people who are called picky actually have physical reasons keeping them from eating anything they want. I never understand why it bothers other people so much when we don't order a lot or get something basic to eat. I figure it's much easier to eat plain food than have to run to the bathroom five times during and after dinner. I'd love to eat pizza and soda and burgers and fries on dates, but the fact is that it's way waaaaay more trouble than it's worth, believe me. Frankly, I think after a certain point, it's just impolite to criticize people's eating habits. It does not (or should not) affect you enjoying your meal. I doubt anyone who says they hate picky eaters would like to be on a date with a guy who says, "Geez, you aren't picky, you eat everything!"
PrincessTracy PrincessTracy 9 years
i'm a bit picky, but i used to be much more...i think that when you're continuously put into situations where it's either suck it up or starve, eventually you suck it up...and you realize it's not so bad!
graylen graylen 9 years
Wow. Some of you would seriously not date someone or be friends with someone because they are a "picky eater"?? That seems so shallow. Almost like not being friends with someone because they have a really annoying laugh or really bad taste in clothes. It seems almost ridiculous. From the side of someone who has bad stomach problems (way more prevalent than people think) and is often labeled a "picky eater"- It's embarrassing. I want to like more foods. I want to go out and eat whatever the hell I want. It would certainly make my life easier and a lot less stressful. And guess what? If we go out and you are badgering me to try a million different things, I may not want to admit to you that a lot of those things give me diarrhea... and I kind of think I have the right to not have to tell you that. People making such a big deal about what I can and can't eat makes me really uncomfortable.. it makes you feel like a big burden to your friends and family. My advice- offer to do things with that person after dinner. Or let them choose where to eat and you choose the movie or whatever else your doing. Trust me, they will love you forever for letting them have an enjoyable and not stressful meal. "Many doctors will tell you that "picky" eating is merely our natural instinct as to what will work with our bodies"... SO TRUE. Everyone labeled me as a super picky eater growing up... turns out- a lot of it makes me sick now- especially anything with spices. So don't sneak in foods... you could just be making the person miserable the rest of the night! So, moral of my long story: be a little sensitive to people about eating. You don't know what's going on behind it. I'll try a lot of things, but not at the risk of making myself sick. And I deserve to go out and eat without having to hear a ton of comments about it.
mlen mlen 9 years
i'm a picky eater but not as bad as i used to be. i do make an effort to try some new things but some things i just won't eat. i don't eat any seafood (and i have tried some of it) and i try not to eat pork or ham. i also can't do spicy food- i'm just very sensitive to it! however i do try to try as much different ways of preparing what i do eat- chicken, turkey, beef, etc. i'll go for thai and order the non spicy stuff, and i'll ask them to not put hot peppers in my mexican! most restaurants usually have either a chicken, steak, or pasta meal on there menu that i can eat- so i can go out to most places, i just might not have many options! i usually try to look up menus on line so i get a feel for what i am in for! and honestly- if all else fails, i get a salad and a big dessert!! i don't think it put people out too much or bother my friends too much- and i do love to eat!
AZ-Mary-Mary AZ-Mary-Mary 9 years
I actually enjoy the challenge of a picky eater. I had an ex who was extremely picky and it was fun once I learned the kinds of tates he preferred to help him expand his list of likes. Sometimes I think he was afraid to try new things because if he didn't like what he ordered he would go hungry instead of eat what he didn't like, and nobody likes a grumpy hungry man! (or a grumpy hungry me either - I am unfit to be around!) Also, I would pick the dishes and make sure I liked them both and that one of them was a safe option for him. Since he was willing to try new things, I was always willing to trade plates if he didn't like what I ordered for us. He was really appreciative also that I was helping him try new things. I had such a good time with it that it makes me sad that people are so annoyed by that, but to each his own.
violetskies violetskies 9 years
saranightly- i'm the same way! i can't eat sandwhiches because there are way too many things touching in those. i also can't stand onions. i taste even the tiny ones. they mess up a lot of foods for me =( turkeyjerky- right on!
smp7328 smp7328 9 years
I used to be a really picky eater until i reached college. That's when my stomach problems, which i have had for over 15 years now, really kicked in. Now i just eat what i can. A lot of those things that i used to hate, i now love. I can't eat a whole heck of a lot of things because my stomach won't tolerate them. It bugs the hell out of a lot of people (and i know that it probably does to my family but they are really nice about it) but I am going to eat what i can and will try to find something bland at almost anywhere we go. Even if it is just a roll and a coca cola. I just try to go with the flow. If a lot of people are going out to eat, I will either eat before or after, and just go to enjoy the company and join in for dessert. You just learn to adapt and not make it a major hang up in your life; this will help others to not be as affected by it as well.
rlveronica rlveronica 9 years
I think you may be onto something, bfly1133! I don't know if I would call myself picky, but I used to be extremely picky. I'm still trying new things and it's all due to my current boyfriend. Before him, I basically ate either: Filipino or Italian food. But he said, "I think it's in your genes, your parents are picky..." and I said, "Let's not even go there with my sister." She only eats burgers, steaks, etc. She doesn't eat pork either... why? I don't know. It's not like it has anything to do with our religion, we're Catholics!
turkeyjerky turkeyjerky 9 years
I am a picky eater. It is not a crime. Its not that I don't try food...I just prefer to eat what I like. Doesn't everyone? Violetskies - Well said!
saranightly saranightly 9 years
I'm a really picky eater, and it's not that I don't like certain types of food, but I can't stand foods mixed together or touching! I don't like a lot of things (most salads, sandwiches, appetizer plates) because the different foods are mixed together. I know that's really weird. Sometimes I can deal with it, but for example, in salads served at people's houses, I really hate tomatoes and I can't even pick them out of a salad because the juice drips on everything. Also, I don't like foods with certain textures. Yes, it is embarassing to be so picky and when ordering out, I feel like the waitresses think I'm anorexic or on a diet when I'm really not. I really wish I liked more kinds of food because I really do like to eat and cook!
sexyeyes sexyeyes 9 years
My b/f is a picky eater too :oy: I hate that about him...
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I am friends with lots of picky eaters, and sometimes if I'm bored I'll plan dinner party menus in my head that everyone can eat! Now, I am not a picky eater. I love almost every food. However, olives give me the gag reflex, so I can totally understand what it's like to not be able to eat a food that many people just love. I can also understand being frustrated by picky eaters... but saying you don't tolerate or don't like them? That seems a little harsh. In the same way our hair colors and body types are different, so are our tastebuds! You can't blame people for not liking certain foods. Personally, I like that my boyfriend shares my love of lots of different types of foods because it makes it easier for me as a cook. But if he only liked certain foods I'd just work around it.
violetskies violetskies 9 years
i think it's a bit insensitive to say you don't like picky eaters. you may not like their eating habits, but are you really going to judge a person based on that? i'm a notoriously picky eater and i just have to say it's really hard trying to have a meal when everyone is judging you. i know what i do and don't like and try not to trouble anybody with that. let me eat my "bland" food without criticism please! if it's my loss then let it be my problem. i'm old enough that i don't need people telling me what to do. sheesh!
bfly1133 bfly1133 9 years
I was checking out Yum Sugar and there is a link to an article about how being a picky eater is all related to genes. I can't tell you if that is true, but I think you guys might be interested. :)
bfly1133 bfly1133 9 years
My hubby definitely eats more than meat and potatoes. But there are things we just doesn't like after trying, so I respect that. If we was refusing to try them that would be a different story. He also has worse tummy issues than me. There is a difference between picky eaters and people who can't eat certain things. However, not many people see the distinction. I have heard time and time again that my allergies or my stomach issues are in my head. I was recently at a shower where I couldn't eat most of the food. I was only able to eat plain bread, grapes, and dessert. One of the hostesses said I was being rude even though she knows of my food problems. I have heard the same thing about picky eaters Greggie.
Pumpkin-Queen Pumpkin-Queen 9 years
My post 26 was referring to post 23.. didnt realise how many people would be posting
Pumpkin-Queen Pumpkin-Queen 9 years
^ that happened to me. I made a sauce mixing mustard, ketchup relish and mayo to eat with my burgers and a friend who claims to loathe all the above things loved it. I never told her what it was but I still laugh everytime we go out and she starts freaking out over how 'gross' condiments are.
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