Saturday, 7 May 2011

Fussy Eater

After my post the other day about my cooking and eating habits I thought I should another to explain a bit further.

Apparently up until the age of around 5 I ate anything and everything and became fussier and fussier the older I grew. I was taken to the doctor by my very worried mum and he assured her I was perfectly fine and if I was hungry I would eat and not to make a fuss as it would worsen the situation.
At my primary school there are 2 very clear memories I have around food.
The first was in the school hall where we were being told about arrangments for a trip. Lunch was being provided by the school and the headmistress singled me out in front of everyone asking me with a great sigh if I would eat the cheese and tomato sandwiches being taken. I remember I tried to answer her as confidently as possible that I would just take the tomato out. But oh the embarrassment.

The second incident was being made to sit outside the headmistresses office with my, by then very cold, school dinner because I hadn't eaten it. Teachers and other pupils walked passed me and it was a thoroughly shameful experience.Mrs Leyton was the name of the demon dinner lady and made lunch time hell for me. I can't remember what it was but it did contain mashed potato. I have had a phobia of mash ever since. Even now there are times when I can't talk about it, smell it or cook it as it makes me gag. Freaky I know!

When there were the chances of a residential trips with school I didn't go because I couldn't be sure I would be able to eat.

As I grew up my automatic response to anything new was 'I don't like it' as it was easier to keep to the few things I did eat. I have a thing about textures as well as taste and even though it's so embarrassing talking about it that far out weighs the fear of being sick. I have lost count of the amount of times I've tried eating apples and hated the grainy texture.

Getting to the age of having boyfriends and them wanting to take me out for meals were yet more painful situations when I had to go through the whole explantion thing again and wait to see how they reacted. Going out for meals there days is better and as long as there are chips on the menu I won't go hungry.

Over the past decade I have made a real effort to improve my diet. I now eat pickled beetroot, but only in sweet vinegar, I eat broccoli, I eat mushrooms, I eat strawberries and raspberries and there are other new things too.

But I still can't eat roast potatoes unless they are encased in a really crispy skin, all to do with the mash thing, although now my chicken roast dinner includes a green veg where as before it was just a pile of yorkshire puds!

I may try and joke about it, but honestly?

It's so boring and sometimes gets me down. I would love to be able to sit down to meal which contain a variety of tastes, but it really is very difficult when there is so much baggage around trying new food.

I wanted my children to have a varied and healthy diet and so that's why I try and cook from scratch each night and I try desperately hard not to fuss when they say they don't like something! I do like the spaghetti carbonara I cook though. After I've done the evening meal for my 3 my meals tend to be something quick and easy because that is all I like, boiled egg and soldiers, a pizza, bacon sandwichs, chicken fillets.

I don't suppose many of you would be wanting me as a dinner guest now!

Anyone want anything from the chippy?!


  1. Sorry not sure if my rather long comment was published!
    Basically said how awful for you to have to cope with this daily, and how hopefully the good food that you prepare for your children will help you too in the long run.
    Good Luck Lisa!
    Thanks for your birthday wishes!
    Gill x

  2. Poor you Lisa.

    It must be a horrible thing to have to deal with on a daily basis. I was a fussy eater as a child. And as an adult I stick to what I feel confident that I like.

    My eldest girl is very fussy eater. And has caused me lots of worry and concern over the years. And the worst of it is that I know if I make a big deal of it it is worse for her. My rule of thumb with it now is at least try a bite of it if you dont like it at least you have tried. It works most times if not every and having a younger sister who in the main eats well has helped her a lot too. I still worry but try not to highlight it to much now.

    And of course we would have chips on the menu just for you Lisa if you were our dinner guest.

    MBB x

  3. I completely understant because I'm very similar!

    I was born fussy I think - as a newborn, I ended up in intensive care because I refused to eat! It's about texture as much as taste for me too and I also only do pickled beetroot!

    Like you, I am slowly expanding my diet and will eat a slightly wider range now but I'm still not good with food. I'm an eat to live sort rather than a live to eat and am not very interested in food. Dave eats most things and cooks a lot so I feel confident that when/if we have children, they won't turn out like me. It has made life difficult at times for me and caused lots of arguments and problems within the family over the years.

    I think part of my problem is that I have far more taste buds that most people so things taste much stronger to me.

    It was nice to read this post and feel like I'm not the only one! Did you ever watch that programme about fussy eaters, I think it was on BBC3? That made me look normal, hehe!

    I think the most important thing is to be happy with the foods you do eat and know that you are doing the best for your children - a lot of non fussy eaters can't manage to feed their children well!

  4. Hello lovely,
    Thank you for your email, I owe you a reply but just a response for now to your blog post.
    I do feel so sorry for you as there's so much socialisation around eating, isn't there?
    I was a fussy eater as a child- primary school dinners were a nightmare. One day I 'stored' a piece of disgusting meat in my cheek all the way through my pudding and until I could get outside and spit it down the loo!
    When I became a veggie at the age of 15, my poor Mum thought I'd starve !! ;-)
    But by the time I was a young adult I was happy to eat anything as long as it's Veggie, of course!
    I think there's a lot of good sense in what your Dr said all those years ago - I'm sure our bodies ask for the food we need and no doubt this is how it is for you.
    Take care dear, and continue to be easy on yourself - eat what's right for you :-)

  5. I think your school handled the situation very badly, which probably made you even worse. I too hardly ate as a small child and was made to sit on the teacher's table at lunchtime. However it wasn't done to shame me just to ensure they saw me eat something, as they were concerned. One day we had something new - Ravioli (which seemed very exotic in the 70s), I can still remember everyone's surprise when I wolfed the lot down. No more sitting with the teachers after that lol.
    At the end of the day you like what you like and as long as it isn't making you ill that is OK.

  6. Dinner ladies have a lot to answer for. When I first met my husband he only ate meat, roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings at meal times. Over the years I've got him to eat such things as Spag Bol, Lasagne, Pizza, in fact Italian is his favourite now. He also wouldn't have any sort of sauce but now eats chicken chasseur, beef bourguignon and casseroles. He started eating vegetables when I got my allotment and started growing my own. My son used to eat everything when he was a baby and it was pureed but became fussy once he went on to solids, I'm sure it's a lot to do with the texture of food as well as certain tastes. He's getting better as he gets older and I hope that in time he'll be like his dad and eat lots of new food. I used to stress over him so much but it just makes things worse so I really don't now, it makes meal times so much more enjoyable.

  7. oh Lisa, i really feel for you. food is my main pleasure in life now (truly and sadly) but youngest has until recent years been incredibly fussy and would hardly try anything i made, thank goodness she is getting a little better. i do sympathize about school though,i wouldn't eat lots of things and once spent the whole lunch hour stood om my chair because i wouldn't eat the cruel, i think i was about 7!

  8. sounds like you need to go on freaky eaters!

    I could live on potato alone!!

    I have of late gone off big meals in the evening, preferring scrambled egg or such like.

    Better not come to lunch then, I might try and serve you tomatoes!

    I am off shortly to shepton mallet antiques fair, hope you are having a good weekend?


  9. I suspect you might be a 'supertaster' - more on Wikipedia - and a sensitive child being dealt with in an insensitive way is likely to have caused some continuing problems. My husband had just this issue in childhood, but in the end went the opposite way, studying catering, and becoming the most wonderful chef - maybe a way of exerting control over what he ate? But he is only just getting over some of the mental blocks even now. My oldest son started out in a similar way, but we didn't make an big thing of it and didn't force him to eat anything, and now he eats anything except sweetcorn and sultanas!

    Pomona x

  10. Count me in the fussy eater club too. I was worse as a child but there are still numerous things I won't eat, and i hate to try anything new. Of course my daughter is just the opposite and thinks I'm weird. My husband is very patient with me thank goodness.
    As to your tomato and cheese sandwich, I'd have to have had the cheese taken out, still don't care much for cheese in anything.

  11. Fascinating post, Lisa, and equally fascinating comments. So many of us women have issues around food, myself included - and I can even trace them back, like you, to an incident at school which I've written about before in my blog. x

  12. Food is such a loaded issue, isn't it. I have enjoyed reading all of the comments, and yes - perhaps you are a supertaster! Or at least highly sensitive to textures. I am with you there; can't do flaked coconut, citrus fruits or a lot of mushrooms for that very reason. SHUDDER.

    As for tomatoes, well, I have rid my diet of them and the other nightshades (at least for now) because my body reacts violently to them.

    Re: schoolday horrors - my worst was being forced to drink milk from those little cartons they gave us. I have always been a fan of cheese and ice cream, but for me, drinking cows' milk is a fate worse than death.

    Finally (will this comment never end?), I have found with Little Lad that oftentimes the objection has little to do with flavor or texture and more to do with being willful. Which is why I hide raw spinach in his chocolate milkshakes and pass off pureed cauliflower as the dreaded-by-you-but-adored-by-him mashed potatoes! It is a hassle (and doesn't always work), but when he eats better, his chronic congestion improves...

    And then we could start a whole new chapter about Emotional Eating - or at least I could! xoxoxo

  13. Oh Lisa, those memories sound awful - no wonder you started to fear food so much (isn't it funny how these things hit so hard?).

    To be honest, I can't even begin to imagine how you cope with that, as, apart from being veggie, I love every food there is! However I think it's incredible that you still insist on providing home-cooked healthy food for your family - too many parents are so happy to feed their kids rubbish! Also, good work on trying things, even if you don't like them - you never know what delicious ingredient is out there waiting for you to sample it :)

    It's also sort of funny that you like mustrooms and broccoli, as both of these things have such strong flavour - maybe that's something to look into; if you like strong flavours you might also like similar things, like kale or squash.

    You should come here for tea - we could have chips for sure, I love them!!!


  14. Sounds like you are coping very well Lisa.I was in hospital when I was 4 and was made to eat the disgusting food they served up.For years I couldn't eat cold meat if it had any fat in it.At Primary school it was the same..made to eat things you didn't really does affect your future eating habits.Take heart that you are not alone. :0)

  15. Another girl born fussy here, I have always caused big problems with my meals to my family, but I have started eating tomatoes since a few years..

  16. Your not alone at all, my son whose 20, tries hard but has the same trouble eating certain things. He has widen the things he eats, but I think it's textures and smells of food, I can't stand the smell of bananas, hate the texture of pears and figs, and offal. There is more people with food dislikes than you might think.

  17. I too was a fussy eater when I was little - I didnt have a big appetite and my mum used to put me and my sister enormous portions on out plates. My brother (who could eat one more spud than a pig) was often bribed by me and sis to finish our food when mum wasn't looking, not easy when we all ate at the table together. I remember mum once forcing food down my throat, and then getting really mad when I chucked up!!! She used to also make me and my sis eat Minidex - medicine to increase your appetite!! Thats why we have grown into big bloaters!!! I wonder if you could help to make food your friend, instead of your enemy?
    I would have you for a dinner guest any time. xxxxx

  18. Oh Law what a bind! Poor you - and so difficult when you are trying to cater for everyone.
    I am married to a mildly fussy eater - he has improved over time!!! As a nipper he only ate wheatabix and cheese sandwiches! Bless.
    Enjoy Sunday,
    love Sarah x

  19. It certainly sounds like your school didn't help. I remember when I was younger my parents said all I'd eat was chips and cheese and I remember visiting friends and being worried about what to eat... I didn't like chocolate so at Easter I'd get stationary.... I even used to take my own juice to playschool as I didn't like milk.

    I was lucky as I got older I became more brave with trying things... honestly after a drink usually! I remember thinking I didn't like pizza because of the tomato (I still won't eat tomatoes although I can eat them in sauces etc) base but one night on holiday I had a bite of someone elses and didn't turn back...

    Even now I still can't eat rissoto, pasta, fish (the smell makes me gag!) but I think the pasta is the texture and fish the smell more than taste - not that I've tried them in a while!

    Victoria xx

  20. I was a terribly fussy eater but my mum never made me eat anything & I took packed lunch to school. There is very little that I don't eat now. I totally understand the texture thing - I can't eat a piece of cheese ( though love it melted ) hate scallops ( yuch ) butter beans, liver & kidney they all make me heave ! My best friend's mum made me eat liver & I was sick all night & she had to clear it up as I was on a sleepover !!! I've never made anyone eat anything or made an issue of it but the kids have tried different things for themselves.

  21. Schools have a lot to answer to! I remember the vile school dinners and a horrible dinner lady standing over me whilst I finished everything on my plate. We were only allowed one small cup of water and I remember taking everyone else's water on the table to help wash it down!!! I feel for you. x

  22. Lisa - Brave you to share these secrets with us. No one loves you less I'm sure. Certainly not me for one! LLX