Every family has one and I am mine. The Picky Eater. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times, “I know you won’t eat it, but I made ABC…” or “there’s some XYZ in the fridge, will you set it on the counter? It won’t hurt you to touch it, I know you hate that stuff.” Spare me. No really, please, because I have heard it a million times. “Will you eat ham? Oh, you don’t eat pork, do you. Why don’t you like pork?” “That isn’t gluten free, can you eat that?” CAN? I “can” eat anything I want, I just choose not to because it may have health repercussions or, most likely, because I plain ol’ don’t like it. Or because I have a weird texture thing with certain foods. Either way, it doesn’t matter why. To each his or her own and food should be no different!
If you want to eat 5 plates of food at your holiday gathering, go for it. I will keep any and all judgements to myself (unless you have bad table manners in which case I will straight up call you out like the piggy you are) because I certainly get my fair share of flack for being a picky eater. I am so weary of all the comments regarding what is or isn’t on my plate so I’ve put together this handy-dandy little guide for dealing with the picky eater in your life! Don’t make the holidays any more awkward for your loved ones who have a very discerning palette. I write on behalf of all of us, the millions of us everywhere. Please be nice to us for we didn’t ask to be this way. The following is in no order of importance because they are equally important!
- Don’t be offended when we show up with our own food. It’s not that we don’t trust you or your cooking, it’s just that we don’t like it. Nothing personal. I don’t know for a fact that you didn’t put an entire jar of mayonnaise in that there casserole, but I have my suspicions and they are valid. You don’t have to eat my whole wheat rolls or my salad but I brought plenty to share!
- No need to point us out. We will make it painfully obvious all on our own, unintentionally, and we don’t need assistance. If Susie is lactose intolerant or has Crohn’s I can assure you, Susie doesn’t want or need the whole table knowing or discussing her health status (insert any medical condition or dietary restriction there, it all applies).
- If you insist on being critical, please at least learn the definitions of the terms. Note the difference between vegetarians, pescatarians, vegans, lactose intolerant, gluten intolerant, etc. “Lindsey doesn’t eat cow” should never be followed with “oh you’re a vegetarian?” My silent face will answer the question for you quicker than I can speak words. Educate yourselves, people. Don’t make my eyes have to roll themselves.
- We like everything “on the side”. When in doubt, leave it ON THE SIDE. If you don’t then we don’t need you to gawk at the pile of bacon bits on the edge of the plate. Did you know some people can’t have seeds? Luckily, I’m not one of them and I love seeds but did you know there’s seeds in damn near EVERYTHING?! It’s true. Plan on adding extra time for the meal to be consumed since half of that time will be spent picking things off and raking it to the side.
- If you know our dietary habits but you hear us making stuff up, just go with it. “No, I’m allergic to that, but thank you.” That statement should be followed with NOTHING. Say nothing at all. Please do not feel the need to say “you eat slaw when I make it” or “I saw you eat turkey sausage once so that’s not true, you do eat sausage.” Yea, and you sleep on the couch starting tonight. If I say I’m allergic, I am allergic. As of right now. Trust me, it’s just easier that way.
- We as picky eaters need you to understand that by being critical, you’re being just as much of a pain in the ass to us as we are to you. So let’s just get through this together and be grateful we have this food, whether we plan to eat it or not. Let’s not make this any more stressful than it has to be!
- No need to state the obvious… “is that your third plate of salad?” Yep. It’s also the only thing up there that I’ll eat. Is that your third husband? Let’s talk about you instead. Oh you don’t like that?
- Please note that it is common for picky eaters to also not like our food touching. It often goes hand in hand.”But it all goes to the same place!” Maybe so but I don’t control what happens after I swallow because if I could, it wouldn’t. Food should never touch. Unless it’s a salad.
- Don’t get upset if you see us checking dates on condiments. Again, it’s NOTHING PERSONAL.
- Please make sure there are plenty of napkins on hand. No need for me to elaborate, just lots of napkins need to be close by. That is all.
- Other things that should never be said to your picky eater include but are not limited to: Just try it! Just one bite. Please? There was mayonnaise in that. (said after the meal is over) Are you still hungry? But you hardly ate anything! If you don’t eat meat, how do you get your protein? You run so much you can eat anything you want, huh?
- Beware of picky eaters who drink more than just water. Sometimes we, I mean THEY, don’t eat enough and then THEY start drinking, forgetting how much THEY didn’t have to eat and it just goes downhill from there. And then someone brings up politics and, well…. nothing good comes from that! If you see this starting to happen, shove a non-buttered dinner roll (preferably wheat but if you don’t have it, white will do) in this person’s mouth or have a vegetable tray on the counter if you’re serving alcohol at your gathering.
One side note I must mention, and shockingly it has to do with being a runner, but we love potatoes! Sweet potatoes (but not the kind with marshmallows, EWW!!), mashed potatoes, roasted red potatoes, potato salad (the mustard kind, of course) boiled potatoes….. as long as you don’t slather them with a stick of butter (and yes we have ways of finding out) we are so totally stoked to have potatoes! If I make a potato plate just be happy I’m filling my plate. Just leave all the other crap on the side. And what is it about people thinking carbs are a bad thing? We are not dieting, we love CARBS. I just like my vegetables and my carbs and that is ok.
I hope some of these tips help you get through this holiday season with your picky eater. Please know we’re not in a bad mood, it’s just that eating in a group setting has become a pain for us, in fact, sometimes we dread it. It’s not that we don’t love you or that we don’t want to do family things, it’s just that we would rather eat before we leave the house if it meant that we could avoid all the awkwardness. Above all, know that we are not ungrateful. We are just picky! There is a big difference and I’m sure that given the choice between starvation and green beans with bacon, we’d just pick the bacon out and get through it somehow. Let’s work together people, after all, we are a family. Let’s not make this anymore stressful than it has to be. Your picky eater is probably afraid to point out these things to you for fear of making it even more awkward so please use my advice. Hug a picky eater today and just let us do our thing. We know what we’re doing with our plates, we’ve been doing it for years. Just let it happen in a judgement free, comment free zone! Happy Holidays!