FEAR OF FOOD: HOLD THE CONDIMENTS, PLEASE
BURGERS MAKE ME GAG
Some eat only peanut butter, others won't have fish if it's touching their veggies. As childhood fussiness becomes full-blown phobia, adult picky eaters are now public and proud. Wency Leung reports
Special to The Globe and Mail
September 23, 2008
VANCOUVER -- Montrealer T. J. Haselden is afraid of cheeseburgers.
The 28-year-old computer salesman is so disgusted by the idea of marrying gooey cheese with tangy condiments, meat and bread that he can't sink his teeth into one without retching.
He gets nauseous at the thought of biting into a juicy tomato, and has yet to work up the nerve to find out how a potato chip tastes.
"If I think I'm going to gag off of it, I'm not going to stick it anywhere near my mouth," Mr. Haselden said. "It has mainly to do with textures and smells."
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For as long as he can remember, he has been able to tolerate only a few foods, including dry chicken or well-done steak and plain, sauce-free vegetables. None of the components can touch each other on the plate.
On evenings when his wife makes herself pasta, Mr. Haselden eats his own chicken dinner at the far end of the table to distance himself from the aroma of her dish.
Mr. Haselden is among a multitude of adult picky eaters who have failed to outgrow their childhood distaste for certain foods. Since their fussiness is often met with ridicule and disbelief, many dread social functions that revolve around food for fear of having to explain or make excuses for what they won't eat.
"Weddings are the worst," Mr. Haselden said, noting that at a recent wedding he was the only adult eating a children's meal of chicken fingers and fries, while everyone else dined on fish. "That was embarrassing."
Through online forums, blogs and social networking groups, however, thousands of adult picky eaters are finding support, and mobilizing to seek tolerance and understanding for their dietary quirks.
Bob Krause, founder of the U.S.-based website PickyEatingAdults.com, said about 200 people have joined a picky eaters' online forum he started earlier this year, , and at least 1,000 are part of his separate picky eaters' Yahoo group.