When I was a young child, around three years old, my parents began having a lot of trouble getting me to eat. I was labelled a picky eater, but not your average ‘I don’t eat the crusts on bread’ or ‘I don’t like vegetables’ kind of picky. More like an ‘I only eat five things’ kind of picky. Those five things were pizza (only cheese), yogurt (had to be strawberry flavour), peas (only if frozen), white cheddar macaroni, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Okay, fine, I didn’t only eat five things, but the actual number isn’t likely that far off. I was so picky that going over to a friend’s house after school involved a lot more coordination between parents. I was so picky that going out for food with friends in high school caused a non-trivial amount of stress and anxiety, and was definitely a hit to my self-esteem since I was labelled ‘different’.
My parents had their hands full, having three kids in five years, and did their best, opting for nutritional meal replacements to help me get what I was likely lacking. What I really needed was a dietitian.
My evolution from picky child and teenager to well-rounded adult happened slowly over the course of many years, under the loving guidance of my extremely patient boyfriend. It was also spurred on by my sudden passion for nutrition that became evident after I took my first nutrition course in university. Many people begin a career in dietetics in order to help someone, such as a family member with a new diagnosis. The same can be said for me, although I was hoping to help myself.
Taking a nutrition course in university allowed me to face my fears in a non-head on way. I learned about the different components of foods, how they’re digested, and why they’re important. As a science major, these nutrition courses spoke in a language I understood and was familiar with, thereby allowing me to have a relationship with food apart from eating. New foods weren’t as scary anymore with science at my beck and call, so I began willingly trying a lot more foods. Some foods, like perogies, I loved instantly. Others I had to try a few times before I liked them. Some, like eggplant, are still on my no list, no matter how many times and ways I try them.
Some family members still think I’m picky, but I don’t see myself like that anymore. There are still some foods I don’t like or want to eat, but I’ve come a long way. I now eat pizza with pepperoni, spinach, chicken, peppers, and onions. Cherry is my favourite yogurt flavour, with strawberry being on the lower end. I also really like cooked peas, tend to not eat macaroni, and prefer my sandwiches with turkey, spinach, cucumbers, tomato, peppers, cheese, and honey mustard sauce.
I still consider myself to be a work in progress when it comes to trying out new foods, but I know that as a registered dietitian I have all the tools I need to continue to help myself and others have a healthy relationship with food.
Sincerely in health,
Brittany Trueman, MHSc, RD