Overcoming Picky Eating as an Adult
Last updated: March 2022
Picking eating is commonly seen in children, but in some cases, picky eating continues into adulthood. When diet choices are limited by picking eating habits, diet changes are more challenging and there is an increased risk of nutrient deficiencies. Both of which, can be problematic for someone dealing with a chronic condition, such as diabetes, in which diet is a cornerstone of management.
How some people become picky eaters
According to registered dietitian Crystal Karges, “Some adults may find that picky eating is something that developed in childhood and carried into adulthood, while others may have developed aversions or dislikes to foods in their later years.”1
The Ellyn Satter Institute, explains that adult picky eating is likely a result of, “too much food pressure as a child, lack of exposure to unfamiliar foods, or both. Adults, like many children, can also be especially sensitive to taste and texture."2
Adults dealing with picky eating habits may feel ashamed, embarrassed, or worry about being criticized for their food preferences. Eating at social events or in public places can be a challenge, adding additional stress and anxiety.1
Tips on how to overcome picky eating with diabetes
While picky eating is likely not going to resolve overnight, the following list of tips may help you get a jump start into trying and enjoying new foods:
- Prepare new foods along with familiar foods
- Serving a familiar food assures that you won’t go hungry, and also takes some of the pressure off of trying the new food.
- Try a new food when there is no audience. Eating a new food in the comfort of your own home takes the pressure off and may help reduce anxiety associated with trying new foods.
- Remember, our taste for food changes over time. If you did not like a certain food as a child, as an adult, you may find that same food to be more palatable.
- Find fun ways to try new foods:
- Try a cooking class. Cooking classes are offered in a variety of settings, some of which include: grocery stores, retail shops, and community centers.
- Explore a new grocery store. Some grocery stores will let you sample a food before making a purchase.
- Check out your local farmer’s market. Farmers’ markets are a great way explore new, in-season foods.
- Try a meal delivery service. Such services typically provide all the ingredients for a specific recipe along with instructions on how to prepare the meal. This is a great way to try a new food in the comfort of your own home and to reduce food waste.
- Commit to trying one new food every week. Keep a journal of all the new foods you have tried with notes about what you liked or did not like, how the food was prepared, and if you are going to try it again.
When to seek professional help
- If you are concerned that your diet is lacking in certain vitamins and minerals, speak with your physician about taking a complete multivitamin.
- Professional help may be beneficial for those with more significant concerns/issues: if the idea of trying a new food causes extreme distress or if you find yourself extremely preoccupied with food. Your physician may be able to recommend a health care professional that specializes in the area of picky eating and other forms of disordered eating.
How often do you find yourself craving sweet snacks?