How to Cope with Adult Picky Eaters
I was a very picky eater growing up. I didn't like many things and definitely didn't want to expand my palate, but my parents continued to push new foods in my direction, always making me try a bite before I could decide that I didn't like it. I hated it. Years later I matured, as did my tastebuds, and now that I am dealing with my own picky eater, I really appreciate my parents always encouraging me to try new things before deciding that I didn't want to eat them. The twist in this tale is that my picky eater is not a child, it is my spouse.
Things didn't quite work the same way in his house growing up. His mom, who very much wanted to keep her children well fed and happy, just made the things that he preferred to eat rather than encouraging him to try new things. Now, he is rarely willing to step outside of his comfort zone.
Once our dinner times merged into a consistently joint venture, I found myself faced with the same problems that my parents no doubt struggled with when they were cooking for me. Although it has been difficult, frustrating, and is a slow process that has taken years, I have started to make progress with expanding my husband's willingness to eat food he would rather not.
Here are the ways that I cope with my picky adult eater:
- Make a favorite meal once a week. My husband could eat tacos every single night. I made him a deal that tacos will be on the menu once a week so that despite what we may be having the rest of the week he knows that one night he will love our meal. The compromise makes him more willing to try other foods knowing that tacos are just around the corner.
- Play with preparation. As a former picky eater myself, I have found that many foods just have to be cooked the right way to be enjoyable and that preferred preparation method can vary from person to person. Most foods have several different ways they can be prepared. Experiment with different methods and your adult picky eater may just find one of them to be bearable or even enjoyable. This is how I got my husband to start eating Brussels sprouts, among other things.
- Take baby steps. Introducing all the foods that you would like for your adult picky eater to enjoy at one meal will be overwhelming. Expanding on the previous two methods, each week I like to pick a single ingredient that I wish my husband would eat and I pair it with other things that I know he enjoys, prepared differently at each meal.
- Don't become frustrated. This is the most difficult but most important point. I struggle with not berating my husband when he does refuse to try something new. However, each time I make an additional negative association with a particular food he is even less likely to try it the next time. Be patient and realize that though it is frustrating, your adult picky eater is just that - an adult.
Do you deal with a picky adult eater? What are your suggestions?