The picky eater

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWOCENTS - By Leila Hashemi

One thing I love about China is the food-shar­ing cul­ture. You can go to al­most any Chi­nese restau­rant, or­der a bunch of dif­fer­ent dishes with your friends and get a taste of ev­ery­thing. This re­minds me of home. My dad is from Iran, and we grew up eat­ing like this. I feel it brings peo­ple closer to­gether and is just a more fun en­vi­ron­ment.

How­ever, some­times, this fun en­vi­ron­ment can be spoiled by a picky eater. Last week, a group of us went to a pop­u­lar all-you-can-eat tep­pa­nyaki restau­rant in San­l­i­tun.

One of my friends brought a very picky guest. She didn’t want seafood or meat and com­plained that her food would taste like seafood if it was cooked on the same grill.

I also ex­pe­ri­ence many picky for­eign­ers who don’t even eat Chi­nese food. Day in and day out I see them or­der McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King. See­ing adults be­ing so picky led me to won­der why, out­side of di­etary re­stric­tions or con­vic­tions, some peo­ple are pick­ier than oth­ers.

Ap­par­ently, there is sci­en­tific sup­port as to why. One rea­son is con­di­tioned taste aver­sion. This the­ory says that we avoid food or drinks that may have caused a neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ence in the past. This is prob­a­bly why ev­ery time I even look at jager­meis­ter my stom­ach starts to turn!

An­other the­ory lies in an in­di­vid­ual’s taste buds. Linda Bar­toshuk, a psy­chol­o­gist at Yale, dis­cov­ered that peo­ple who avoided strong tast­ing foods like al­co­hol and hot pep­pers ac­tu­ally have more taste buds than non-choosy peo­ple.

In an ar­ti­cle by live­science. com, a site de­signed to ex­plain past and present sci­en­tific dis­cov­er­ies, adults who are picky eaters are now be­ing rec­og­nized as hav­ing a disor­der. The “se­lec­tive eat­ing disor­der” isn’t clas­si­fy­ing peo­ple who just have a few foods they don’t like; in­stead, it de­scribes a per­son whose eat­ing habits cause them to have prob­lems in their daily life, such as be­ing a role model for their kids or when in so­cial sit­u­a­tions.

Taste buds change over time, and you have to be will­ing to try new foods. Up un­til I was 25, you wouldn’t catch me even look­ing at a tomato, green pep­per or onion. Now, I can’t get enough. So, try some­thing new, ex­pe­ri­ence tastes from dif­fer­ent re­gions and know that there is a chance some­thing you hated be­fore could be your new fa­vorite food.

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