Sarah Morgan

Healthcare Geek.
Professional Communicator.

Picky, Picky

Picky eaters: are they that way due to choice, or due to biology? Now scientists are wondering if it’s the latter. And good for the scientists, and all – let’s question everything – but I have to say, my thoughts tend somewhere toward “oh, please“.

You know I tend to be skeptical about our society’s rush to excuse problems by medicalizing them into “conditions” (see also my thoughts on Tiger Woods). As far as I’m concerned, this is one more example.

Now, you must understand, I was a very picky eater growing up. I wouldn’t even pour milk on my cereal or tomato sauce on my spaghetti until I was in college. The idea of mushy cereal revolted me, and the taste of any kind of spaghetti sauce was much too unpleasantly strong. So I get the argument that some people are extra-sensitive to smells, tastes or textures, truly I do.

But come on. Why is it that I’ve never, ever heard of a picky eater who will only eat crunchy raw vegetables, or one who threatens to vomit if they even think about eating sweets? And yet there’s an awful lot of people who will only eat white processed carbs and swear they’d throw up if they even nibbled a vegetable.

If it were purely biology, it stands to reason that there would be just as many picky eaters who hated unhealthy and processed food as hate healthy, natural food.

Here’s what I think.

Kids have more taste buds and therefore more sensitive palates. (That’s biology.) Plus, kids are brought up by popular culture to think that junk food is cool. (That’s letting your kid watch too many commercials.)

Which means you get two very powerful reasons to become a picky child.

However. If you add to that parents who cater to their children’s every whim, plus a person who never grows up enough to challenge their preconceptions, you get a picky adult.

There are definitely people who are just born to be more squeamish. I think fried calimari feels like rubber bands in my mouth, and I haven’t eaten a banana since I was old enough to hold one, and I’m sure there are people who find that bizarre. But I love alligator and ostrich, Japanese and Ethiopian and Thai, stinky cheese, and trying at least a few bites of whatever I don’t recognize on the menu.

Everyone has preferences. But that’s different than just being a chicken.



I remember my parents saying to Little Me “Try it, you’ll like it” when a new food was introduced. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. But at least I knew. When I was on an student exchange in Germany, one of the American girls would only eat McDonald’s. I always felt sorry for her – afraid to try new foods (especially in Germany where the food is incredible).

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