Pickyus Eaterus

    One of the biggest obstacles to family style dining is an animal.  I don't mean to suggest that the process of family dining is somehow impeded by angry woodland creatures (except the occasional picnic incident).  The animal I'm speaking of is a different kind of animal altogether, I would like to discuss the dreaded Pickyus Eaterus.  The species lives in every climate, blends in with every population, and can use tools to avoid eating a well balanced meal.   The Pickyus Eaterus is exceedingly common, you almost certainly know several.  There may be a Pickyus Eaterus in your family.  Don't be alarmed, there are warning signs, and it is a positively treatable condition.

    First off, how can you tell if a friend or loved one is a Pickyus Eaterus?  Pickyus Eateruses often refuse to eat foods that are good for them, taste good, or both.  This is because the Pickyus Eaterus has irrational distaste for certain foods.  Sometimes this distaste is the result of childhood trauma, aversion to certain colours or shapes, or in certain extreme cases; programs that the Eater has seen on the Sy Fy channel.  There are a handful of observed behaviors which are common to the Pickyus Eaterus. 
Often the Pickyus Eaterus will be observed using an implement of silverware (or hands in the case of the species' younger members), to push undesirable food items to the edge of their plate.  This is sometimes accompanied by a telltale wrinkling of the nose, or visible sneer at the removed foodstuffs.  Also prevalent are verbal cues.  These cues often come in the form of excuses, such as "Ew, gross, that is green/ a circle/ looks like a space alien."  If you know the food in question is nutritionally sound, these objections should not be heeded.  In certain situations however, it is not advisable to eat green things/ circles/ space martians.  Use your best judgement.  Another indicator is age.  If the individual in question is a child, they are significantly more likely to be a Pickyus Eaterus.  You have likely noticed some these behaviors among individuals in your community.  The good news is, there is help.

    In order to treat the condition of the Pickyus Eaterus you must recognize and note which foods the individual has a strong aversion to.  Once the problem foods are isolated you should take into account the nutritional needs of that person.  In some cases, foods are avoided because of health concerns or food allergies (ie. If I consume anything vaguely related to peanuts I will die.)  These are valid concerns, not to be confused with the afore mentioned ridiculous excuses (ie. If I eat vegetables I will cry, vomit, and burst into flames.)  If you are unsure, contact a health care professional.

    Now that the problem foods have been isolated, determine that person's dietary need for them.  If your Pickyus Eaterus will not consume french fries and sugary sweets, you may not desire to take any action at all (these foods have been linked to hyperactivity, acne, and violent death).  More commonly the foods which the Pickyus Eaterus finds distasteful are important building blocks of a healthy diet.  One strategy is appeasement.  Dietary needs can be met in a variety of ways, find a healthy alternative to the food in question.  This can lead to some exceptionally boring eating habits.  It is the position of this writer never to negotiate with whiners. 

    I prefer culinary sleight, trickery, and subterfuge.  One strategy I employ is disguise.  If a problem food doesn't look the same as it usually does, a Pickyus Eaterus can be tricked into eating it.  For example, cauliflower puree looks an awful lot like mashed potatoes and tastes almost as starchy.  Picky eating can often be traced to colour, texture, or shape.  These are all easily manipulated characteristics.  If your eater isn't especially observant, they may never know.  Another popular strategy is to make the problem food unavoidable by shape or size.  This can be accomplished by mixing the problem food into a well liked food in such a way that it becomes too time consuming or difficult to consume one food without the other.  This method can sometimes backfire if your Pickyus Eaterus is especially stubborn or manually dextrous.  Some foods can also be easily hidden within others in the fashion of a Trojan horse.  A food processor or blender can turn just about anything into a paste, and that paste can in turn be added to just about anything, many times without detection.  By the time the Pickyus Eaterus has consumed the 'Trojan Horse' food, it's already too late.  The most time honored technique is of course bribery.  Dessert can be a very powerful motivator, especially for children.  There is some debate regarding the personal ethics involved in pastry or confection based bribery, I personally believe that those dissenters should just clean their plate.

Here's a few simple examples of how to hide some really great food:

  1. Cauliflower Puree- It looks just like mashed potatoes.  And EVERYONE likes mashed potatoes.
  2. Dress up your favourite boring applesauce with a few chunks of apple and a crunchy topping and call it pie.
  3.  Puree fruits in a food processor and use the puree in beverages, or freeze to make fruit pops or ice cream.  No additional sweetener is needed.  Try vegetables too.  Cucumber with melon or berries makes for a refreshing summer treat.
  4.  Make has browns from almost any vegetable for a crispy breakfast.  One of my favourites is zucchini.  Shred the zucchini or break it down to a fine dice, then cook just a little hotter than you would a potato.  You can also use zucchini to make fries, just lightly coat in breadcrumbs and bake.
  5. Try hummus.  This mixture of ground chickpeas and tahini (a toasted sesame paste) can be made to look and taste like any number of different dips or spreads and is an exceptional source of protein!


    1. What do you do if your Pickyus Eaterus is a grown man?

    2. What doesn't he eat, Deb? Email me and I'll help you out.