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How to overcome food fear as a picky eater?

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Updated November 23, 2014 at 3:29 AM
Created March 04, 2012 at 12:39 AM

I am one of the pickiest eaters I know. If pressed it is a taste thing, but mainly a texture thing - I can actually list the foods I will eat if someone asks because the list just isn't that long. There are a ton of common things I have never tried, like spaghetti/a sandwich/etc.. You would think it would make transition to Paleo easier, because I don't have as much to give up, but now my limited diet is even more limited because I am now eating the same things over and over and over because I can't force myself to try anything else. The main things I am eating right now are salmon, scallops, most meats, pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, and some fruit. Vegetables are the most difficult for me because the taste of most of them are too strong and the textures too unappealing. Is there any "gateway" vegetables I should try that are fairly bland? And before anyone asks I really do try to try new things, but it is definitely a struggle to force myself to eat something that I don't consider a "safe" food.

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1801 · March 04, 2012 at 10:36 PM

I think it's fascinating how different people like/dislike different foods! Not many I dislike, but I cannot stand bamboo shoots, I can taste them throughout a dish and now I understand why some people dislike onions (well, I can't, but you know :-)

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289 · March 04, 2012 at 4:40 PM

CBT's a great suggestion, everyone could benefit from a little of it, it's a modern version of stoic exercises... I think aubergine and portobello mushrooms are meaty btw.

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37187 · March 04, 2012 at 4:30 PM

LOL, I'm the opposite on celery. I've only started eating some of the cooked from my stews (I used to toss it) but I chow down on raw. It would be interesting if we shared a meal, wouldn't it?

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1614 · March 04, 2012 at 4:24 PM

You eat scallops but have a texture issue? I am intrigued. What is it about certain vegetable textures you don't like? Think about the specifics. Feel free to edit your post, it may help others come up with specific suggestions.

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4124 · March 04, 2012 at 1:24 PM

RJ, have you considered that your hesitance to eat particular foods might be because you have sensitivities to things they contain? In case it is of interest, here is some information that might help you pinpoint problematic and safe foods: http://failsafediet.wordpress.com/the-rpah-elimination-diet-failsafe/quick-reference-what-am-i-reacting-to/ There are other elimination diets that might be of use to you: Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and GAPS come to mind. All the best to you. :)

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1801 · March 04, 2012 at 8:31 AM

Actually, I find cauliflower to have a pretty strong taste!

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10 Answers

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56616 · March 04, 2012 at 3:45 PM

I think you need to see a psychologist, because your pickiness probably qualifies as a neurosis if it limits you so much. Particularly, a cognitive behavioral therapist would probably help. But honestly, hiring a really good private chef to work with you would cost the same and probably work as well. They could discuss what you don't like about certain foods and strategies to cook them in ways to make them appealing or alternatives that might not share the things you don't like.

I do know paleo dieters who don't eat vegetables though. It's possible to do if you eat a variety of different meats and animal parts + nuts + fruits.

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289 · March 04, 2012 at 4:40 PM

CBT's a great suggestion, everyone could benefit from a little of it, it's a modern version of stoic exercises... I think aubergine and portobello mushrooms are meaty btw.

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3043 · March 04, 2012 at 1:27 PM

I hate raw vegetables, it actually makes me sick if I eat them. I know this is my body saying it can better digest cooked vegetables. If your having a hard time getting them into your diet. Make a stew, cook the vegetables and than puree them, than add meat and its delish:)

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623 · March 04, 2012 at 1:06 AM

I am not sure how to help you except to say just suck it up and eat the fuel your body needs. There are a ton of veggies I have tried in the past before paleo that i wouldn't even try for a similar issue but knowing that i needed to eat local fresh foods i just tried them some worked some didn't. And even if they didn't work I ate and learned to like them.

Remember this is for your health not necessarily your taste buds. With that said I much prefer my food to taste good. LOL!

On other note there isn't a huge thing to eat the same things but you really do need to figure out how to get some veg especially greens into your diet. Even if its just a big mixed green and spinach salad.

Matt

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37187 · March 04, 2012 at 4:40 PM

I don't like some strong flavors either. I eat pretty bland compared to some I know. And you're not the only one sensitive to texture, so don't feel you're odd. All my life I have avoided creamy soups, salad dressings and puddings. The only pudding I ever ate was tapioca. I find that if you aren't using refined sugar, there are delicate differences between types of lettuce: I prefer red leaf lettuce, baby romaine and (rarely) organic iceberg. I like the taste of raw celery but not everyone does.

I know most people like oranges, but I like grapefruit. Since I've been off sugar they even taste quite sweet to me and I start my main meal with one--I do think they taste best when I haven't eaten any other food yet.

I don't tend to like canned or frozen vegetables (canned green beans being an exception.) Fresh vegetables frequently have more delicate flavor whether raw or cooked. Among vegetables, I find spaghetti squash and yellow summer squash pretty benign, along with cooked cauliflower. I had to acquire the taste for asparagus and broccoli but I like both now. My favorite tuber is rutabaga, which has a lighter flavor than sweet potatoes.

As Melissa said, consider finding support but in the meantime you could consider trying just a bite or two of something you haven't tried in a while on a weekly basis to see if your taste shifts as you continue to eat healthy. When you're eating out can be a good time to do that because you can try a bite off a family member's/friend's plate rather than buying a large quantity at the store.

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840 · March 04, 2012 at 3:12 PM

For me, it was concluding (whether it is true or not) - that since my digestion is 10000x better than it was before. Thus it could probably handle gluten much better now, to the degree that the little big of accidental exposure would have unnoticed effects. Also, accepting that if I ever get gas, cramps, it is rare and it is something you have to live with (because lucky us, we never deal with it!) And finally, wanting to enjoy life and stop worrying.

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1801 · March 04, 2012 at 8:40 AM

If it's texture, how about cooking things differently or eating them raw? I can't eat raw celery, but don't mind it cooked.

Can you combine the vegetables into a vegetable dish?

I find some veg to be quite strong tasting, but I like it! Cucumber is pretty bland IMO. And, iceberg/romaine lettuce. Perhaps try these as a base for a salad? I find raw carrot is a completely different taste to cooked carrot too.

White potatoes?

Just a few suggestions.

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37187 · March 04, 2012 at 4:30 PM

LOL, I'm the opposite on celery. I've only started eating some of the cooked from my stews (I used to toss it) but I chow down on raw. It would be interesting if we shared a meal, wouldn't it?

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1801 · March 04, 2012 at 10:36 PM

I think it's fascinating how different people like/dislike different foods! Not many I dislike, but I cannot stand bamboo shoots, I can taste them throughout a dish and now I understand why some people dislike onions (well, I can't, but you know :-)

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4625 · March 04, 2012 at 3:52 AM

Age- it comes with age. and learn to cook, when you cook, you taste everything, from boiling water to diced heart after it hits the cast iron pan.

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32518 · March 04, 2012 at 2:10 AM

EFT, aka acupressure "tapping" is a really helpful tool to overcome fears/phobias/food anxiety.

You really can shift this and it doesn't need to be painful. (I'm a practitioner, so have seen it in action with many clients.)

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375 · March 04, 2012 at 1:40 AM

Yes you are at a disadvantage and advantage with this one. At least you can stay away from the main harmful foods (wheat/gluten/grains). Are there any particular "flavors" as in spices you like? Try covering some veggies with your favorite spices/seasonings. Califlower is a fairly bland food in my opinion, which might work.

I'd suggest going to the store and picking out a few random new things, just a little of each. Look up some recipes on how to prepare them and try them all. just little. Don't force yourself but maybe exposure will help. Also mixing meat/other foods with a little veg can cover up any vegetable taste and still get you some nutrients.

Also watch how many nuts you are consuming, although very nutritional they can also lead to an over consumption of Omega 6 not to mention a lot of energy is packed into them.

Good luck!

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1801 · March 04, 2012 at 8:31 AM

Actually, I find cauliflower to have a pretty strong taste!

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78422 · March 04, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Sorry to be blunt, but the answer is simply to grow up.

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