Calling All Picky Eaters!

image via Kakitee

It’s the dinner guest from hell.

You know the one. He’s not a vegetarian. His diet is not restricted by religion. He doesn’t have food allergies or a medical condition. He’s  just plain fussy.

We think of picky eating as a childhood phenomenon, but there are adults among us– otherwise sensible, well-adjusted men and women– who somehow never outgrew their fussiness. They are perversely choosy, banishing from their diets specific foods and entire food groups. Adult picky eaters might have given up the high chair histrionics of the toddler years, but otherwise haven’t ‘grown out of it,’ as everyone predicted.

While a typical omnivore enjoys thousands of flavors and combinations, a picky eater might tolerate a few dozen.

Meals for them can be minefields of phobic flavors and textures with no discernible logic guiding likes and dislikes: raw mushrooms but not cooked; cooked tomatoes but not raw; they gag on all dairy except for sour cream which magically makes everything taste better.

Theories abound.

Picky eaters have always puzzled clinicians. At various times over the years, picky eating has been linked to obsessive-compulsive disorders, a dulled sense of taste, a childhood trauma centered around food, and the heightened perceptions of a supertaster, There is no known diagnostic category; traditional eating disorders are all organized around weight, appearance, and body image. Yet the behavior around a severely limited diet can interfere with social and professional relationships, which is a hallmark of a true psychiatric disorder.

Fussy-Finicky-Compulsive-Persnickety: in the spotlight.

Now the psychiatric community is considering recognizing Selective Eating Disorder as a medical condition that could apply to adults and children. A task force has been convened to study and categorize finicky eating in adults (known as the Food F.A.D. Study). Researchers at Duke University and the University of Pittsburgh have launched the first public registry of  picky eaters that has already attracted thousands of respondents .

Join the national registry and participate in a survey of eating preferences and habits at

PickyEatingAdults is a large online community of fussy eaters  with chapters in the U.S. and the U.K. You’ll find information, support groups, forums, and other resources.

Currently casting in Los Angeles– a new reality TV show about people with unconventional eating habits.


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9 Responses to Calling All Picky Eaters!

  1. I says:

    Oh btw, this disease/sickness can be transmitted: it actually starts from home. So if you have children PLEASE, please-I beg you: feed them anything so they will not grow up and become adults UNLIKE you: just too fearful. Parents that are picky eaters should go see a psychiatrist for the sake of their children. You are offensive to society-as a whole. I hope you understand my rave, my rant: I feel insulted being a good/clean cook. Please post my comment-I am sure it will help picky eaters know how we feel NON-picky eaters. Thanks & good luck on this intervention/study.

  2. I says:

    It has become a problem for me accommodating picky eaters especially if they are significant others you want to feed/impress. Well, I HATE THEM to the core of my being. It is VERY, VERY INSULTING for me as I am a VERY GOOD & CLEAN (emphasis is on CLEAN) cook-as I said: I also accommodate their range of taste. You forgot to mention 1 reason why they also won’t eat at your house or eat your food or go to a generic restaurant w/ you on occasions: I found out that these people are into CLEANLINESS, that they think certain people/RACE prepare food UN-hygienically. I won’t forget the first time I attended this FUZZY Thanksgiving dinner: I made this Mongolian Beef dish-most GOOD/PROFESSIONAL COOKS I KNOW rave about it (irregardless of their race, accent, etc.). I admit it was not suited for the occasion but too late I made it & brought a bowl of it. So I brought it to this Thanksgiving dinner and I got insulted to my face and was asked in front of my husband and all other guests if: “is that dog-meat?” (or cat, etc. or some other meat aside from farm-raised animal). To make the story short, every time I need to go to their ‘party’, I would already prepare the SAME foods they will make the day before and EVEN BETTER: I know it by now since that’s the only thing they know how to make and are proud of it: turkey, potatoes, sweet potato, pumpkin, etc. Same old f!@#$%^ thing. To be fair: I can eat it. Hey, I’m not a fussy eater so their bland turkey, bland potatoes, bland everything-won’t go to waste w/ me and WILL not be insulted. I can eat anything as long as it’s not too old or has been heated/cooked well. If I get sick of other people’s food, then too bad-it happens! I believe there is no such thing as a unhygienic cook. Weak gut might be the cause w/ not having enough ‘bad’ bacteria being picky since childhood can be the reason or just plain fate. Hey, it must be your end so deal w/ it. Unless someone really want to purposely kill you but there is no such thing as a dirty cook/chef. I bet you don’t like your food dirty-well the same w/ the rest of us here. So Anyway, I would go there, already full/stuffed so I just get the food w/c I did not prepare that they did. Usually, appetizers & beverage. The reason for my actions is psychological for them: I want them to experience what I felt. I can not force them to eat what I cook, but I can surely teach them emotionally & mentally. And it helps: they would ask me, why won’t you get this & that and it really frustrates them that I would answer “I already made/ate the same at home last night…” Again you can’t force them to eat your food, but you can definitely reach their fear, their pride, their core: “what they do unto others, do unto them!” Picky eaters: you can kiss my a$$!

  3. FreakEaters says:

    Found this thread and thought it applies….casting season 2 of “Freaky Eaters” on TLC…

    TLC is looking for the people with Certain Food Addictions and Unusual Eating Issues.

    This program is an engaging and ultimately transformational Docu-Series looking to help Americans in need of a diet intervention. Each week, the series will follow a different person with an extremely restricted diet, often to the point of avoiding entire food groups. A team of qualified experts will use a number of techniques to help the person overcome their nutritional and psychological problems and develop a healthier diet.

    – Are you considered an extremely picky or fussy eater?

    – Do you have a limited diet of a few specific food items that you will not stray from?

    – Are you addicted to one food and one food only?

    – Do your friends or family members think your “picky eating” is getting out of control?

    – Are you terrified of eating certain foods and the thought brings you out in a sweat?

    If you or someone you know needs help with their food issue, then we want to hear from you. We’d like to hear from people who want help to overcome their problem. This is not a show for people who “just don’t like brussel sprouts” or choose not to eat meat for ethical reasons. This is a series for adults who genuinely would like help to deal with the psychological root causes of why they cannot eat or try new foods.

    If you are an adult with extreme eating habits and would like to know more about our show please email with the following:

    -First and Last Name
    -City, State
    -Phone Number and email
    -Photo and/or link to your Facebook or Myspace
    -A brief paragraph about what makes your eating habits
    extreme and why you want help. The more you tell us, the

    If you know someone with an extreme eating habit and you would like them to get help, you may also nominate them.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I am one of those picky eaters. I know that I cause issues for others when choosing a restaurant and likewise with dinner parties. For that reason, I usually skip both and wind up eating by myself. It’s definitely not due to snobbishness- I so wish I could be out there networking with the leaders at work and friends, but sadly I cannot.

  5. This is a great post.

  6. Janice says:

    Actually, i find it to be easy to accommodate picky eaters in my home. But what I hate is having to compromise on a restaurant choice because of their limited range.

  7. I actually don’t try too hard to accomodate my guests and those severely picky simply don’t get invited to dinner. There are other activities to pursue with friends who don’t appreciate food aside from eating.

  8. Anne says:

    I too try to accommodate my guests restrictions and strong dislikes but I have had friends who were adult picky eaters who simply turned down invitations for meals, only coming to social gatherings that did not center on food (food present was fine as long as one didn’t actually have to consume anything). At first I thought it was weird but realized that they were trying to be considerate, knowing that their presence at meals would not make things fun. Now I mostly try to provide a variety of foods and not make an issue out of what people eat. And provide a full range of condiments – that can often be the best way to accommodate a wide range of tastes.

  9. I always go out of my way to accommodate my guests, food allergies, vegan’s, or any other reason…..but if they are just so picky and turn up their nose at food….they can eat at home….lol….I do think they come out just to see how far they can push people.

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