Thursday, June 3, 2010

Little Miss Persnickety

You know her.  She's your niece or your neighbor that you agreed to watch for the day (or maybe several days).  It's time for a meal.  You prepare the food.  Everyone sits down.  They all start eating.  Everyone but her.

If she's been drilled to be polite, she just looks at the food and pushes it around on her plate hoping to find enough that she likes to no longer be starving.  If she hasn't learned manners well yet you'll likely get a big EW!

Boy, if that's not flattering of your cooking.

She's such a brat.  She's so picky.  Nothing will make her happy.  Her parents have spoiled her, overindulged her.  Fine.  She can go hungry then.  She'll eat it when she gets hungry enough.

Maybe.  And maybe not.

I would like to introduce myself.  I am Little Miss Persnickety.  I eat like a five-year old.  I refer to the food you eat and I don't as grown up food.  I know people find me irritating.  I know they judge me.  I've had to learn to live with that.  But there is more to it than you might know.  Have you ever really considered it from the child's point of view?

I have been picky about food my whole life.  There are so many things I don't like.  It might be the taste.  It might be the texture.  Who knows?  In fact, sometimes I don't like food at all.  Any of it.  Sometimes just the thought of food makes me gag.  But it's necessary.  I get weak when I don't eat.  My headache escalates.  I have learned to see food as medicine to keep me healthy.

I spent my childhood being chastised for it.  I didn't understand why people got so upset.  I was the one going hungry.  It's not that I don't like YOUR potato salad -- I don't like potato salad.  I guess people take their cooking pretty seriously and get highly offended if you don't like it.  I have offended many people.

But I am so jealous of people who like food.  When I go to a restaurant with others I watch them scour the menu.  So many options.  So many things look so delicious to them.  They are so excited.  They are eagerly anticipating.  And when the food comes they revel in it.  Other people get so much enjoyment from food.

I scour the menu for a different reason.  Is there anything here I can eat?  Will the meat be done?  How irritated will my dining mates and waitress get if I send it back?  What if I send it back more than once?

Seriously, I avoid eating out with certain people just because I can't take the judgment.

It's my money.  I am paying for the food.  Shouldn't I get to have something I like?

I don't ask people to prepare special food just for me.  If I don't like what you're serving then I just won't eat.  Why are your knickers in such a twist?  It's just food.

I don't know why I'm so picky.  Maybe it was the only thing I had even a little control over as a child.  Maybe it's because my sense of taste and smell seems to be stronger than most.  Maybe I'm just an irritating little brat who wants my own way.

Whatever the reason, I accept it about myself.  I'm okay with it.  If you are that sensitive about whether I'll eat your food or not then don't invite me for dinner. 

I'm sure there are foods you don't like, too.  I'm sure there are things that would make you gag to even think about eating.  My list is just longer and contains more foods that most people eat.  But I don't.  I don't like eggs, cheese, bananas, mayonnaise, barbeque sauce, meatloaf, sloppy joes, onions, onion rings, hot dogs, fry sauce, and many more every day things.  I want my meat well done, no pink at all.  And I don't like processed meat.  I don't like hamburger, although I will sometimes eat it under the right circumstances.  I want my meat to look like the striated muscle tissue that it is.  I want it in the form that it came off the animal, only a lot more cooked. 

There are so many other things, an endless list.  I have learned to eat bananas even though I don't like them.  And I now eat spinach in my salad.  But that's it for my growth for now.

But maybe you could do me a favor.  Next time you have someone who doesn't like what you're serving, instead of feeling hurt or thinking them a brat, maybe you can remember that thing you don't like to eat -- and cut Little Miss Persnickety a little slack.

To read more about my food issues, go here.
To read about my psychiatrist visit connected to my food issues, go here.


The Erin said...

Don't worry, you just named a good deal of the things on my list... I'm not picky, per say, but there are some things I really don't like... Though I don't have the guts to refuse anything, so I just gag it down. I've gotten REALLY good at that.

You can go out to eat with ME. I wont judge you.

Kazzy said...

I am sure being picky is not fun. Have you had a recent bout of being judged or are you just expressing a built-up emotion?

Kristen said...

From what I have seen of most people in this world (including myself at times, unfortunately) they will always find something to be judgemental about. So if it's not being a picky eater, it's the way you dress, the way you parent, something. I truly don't care what you eat, but I actually feel sad for you, because I LOVE food! I'll go eat some extra food right now, just for you!

Yarell said...

what i'll usually do if there's something that i don't like is drown it in salt or pepper or butter. But even so, I can't abide tomatoes. Yet i love salsa and ketchup. go figure. Oh, and don't get me started on pickles or cranberries ... they literally make me gag. i can't get them down no matter how hard i try.

Bonnie said...

I am a recovering judger, and just like an alcoholic can't even go there with even a little mixed drink, I can't do the "what's wrong with you?" thing. But I remember as a young mother thinking what brats OTHER people's kids were over food preferences. Maybe knowing someone who recovered from being so mean about it makes you feel better?

Sean Norton said...

Here I thought I was the only one. I grew up with a metabolic disorder that limited me from eating much if any red meat or milk products. Consequently my parents stuck with what I could eat, and having not developed a palate outside of that, now it's a matter of what I can/will actually eat. Some say it's amazing I function given the limited list of things I will eat. I also have a fairly sensitive nose, and so the smells also bother me. If I could just get my food in pills ala the Ketsons, I totally would. Aside from chocolate which I enjoy, eating is pretty much a chore I have to put up with. My reasons may be somewhat different, but I'm so glad I'm not alone. It makes dating very difficult too, one of my dear female friends who I'd love to have something more with admits, that while there are other obstacles, the fact she is a self proclaimed 'foodie' loving all variety of foods, makes a relatiosnhip impossible and eating together as friends equally difficult.

Carissa said...

Not sure if you've done any research into ARFID but it sounds like that could be what you're dealing with!