Picky Eater Test
Have you ever taken a picky eater test? Were you a picky eater when you were younger? Most children are picky about at least some foods, and as we grow older we tend to grow out of our picky eating phase.
However, that’s not always the case for adults (1).
Are there any foods that you don’t like to eat? How many foods are on your “yuck” list? In this article we’ll utilize a picky eater test to determine if you are a picky eater.
From there, we will learn ways to incorporate healthful and nutritious foods into your diet. Picky eating doesn’t have to mean eating the same meals every day. Let’s learn more below.
What is a Picky Eater?
There is no official assessment or definition for being a picky eater. For this reason, we’re sharing multiple definitions of what picky eating can look like.
A picky eater can show the following behaviors (2):
- a reluctance to try new food textures
- food neophobia (fear of trying new foods)
- a reluctance to eat familiar foods
- inflexibility/OCD symptoms related to how food is prepared (3)
- pronounced and intense food preferences (for both likes and dislikes)
- minimal number of foods in the diet
- limiting or omitting entire food groups (combined with reluctance to try new foods)
As you can see, there isn’t a specific number of foods that, if you refuse to eat them, makes you a picky eater.
It comes down to your routine with food, your willingness to try new foods and new textures, and your preferences for specific foods/food groups.
Are You a Picky Eater?
Eating the same foods again and again – instead of trying new foods – is a good sign that you are a picky eater.
If you still reach for your childhood favorite meals, and little-to-nothing else, then you are likely a picky eater.
If your friend invites you over for dinner and they make something that you don’t like to eat, and you push the food around your plate without eating it, then you’re probably a picky eater.
Do you dislike more foods than you like? Have you omitted entire food groups, like vegetables, and refuse to eat or even try them? Then it’s reasonable to believe that you are a picky eater.
Take a step back from your diet and look at what you are consuming and what you are avoiding.
Make some notes, ask friends and family if they’ve noticed your eating habits, and then review the information you’ve gathered.
Being a picky eater becomes a concern if you are experiencing symptoms related to nutrient deficiencies.
These symptoms will vary depending on what foods you do eat and if their nutrients are of high enough levels to keep you healthy.
Talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian if you are concerned about nutrient deficiencies. They may suggest a daily multivitamin, or a few additional vitamins for picky eaters.
What If It’s More Than Picky Eating?
Experiencing nutrient deficiencies and being excluded from social events surrounding food are signs that you could be experiencing more than picky eating.
Food neophobia is the fear of trying new foods. Check out the chart below to help clarify the differences between picky eating and food neophobia:
|Picky Eating||Food Neophobia|
|New food refused when tasted||New food refused when served|
|Dismissal of both familiar foods and unfamiliar foods||Fear of (and dismissal of) unfamiliar foods|
|Refusing foods because they don’t like the taste||Refusing foods because they are new/unfamiliar|
Food neophobia is common in children, but it is still present for some adults. Adults with food neophobia only consume the few foods that they are familiar with and they refuse (and fear) trying any new foods.
Our sense of smell is important in our perception of food, and ultimately how good the food tastes. Those with food neophobia interpret food smells as unpleasant (4).
This can, in turn, lead to consuming less variety of foods and even entire food groups.
Food Neophobia Treatment
Common food neophobia treatment includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (5). This type of therapy can help determine perception of foods and how best to expose the patient to new foods.
Additionally, this treatment offers nutrition guidance, help with cognitive restructuring, and relaxation techniques. Combined, these can all be helpful in terms of food neophobia recovery.
Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, or ARFID, was previously known as “Selective Eating Disorder.” Adults with ARFID do not consume enough calories to maintain body functions, leading to weight loss.
Small amounts of foods that are consumed usually consist of “comfort foods” or “safe foods.” These foods are typically: crackers, cereal, chicken nuggets, pizza, plain noodles, white bread, and French fries.
In contrast to picky eating, ARFID does have an official diagnosis. This diagnosis is made when:
- Lack of interest and avoidance in foods affects nutrient and caloric needs that leads to one or more of the following (6):
- profound nutrient deficiency
- significant weight loss
- depends on nutritional supplements (oral or enteral)
- notable impedance with psychosocial functioning
- Lack of interest and avoidance in foods is not related to available food
- Lack of interest and avoidance in foods occurs independently of additional eating disorders (such as bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa)
- Lack of interest and avoidance in foods is not related to medical condition or other mental disorder
Those with ARFID have little interest in eating due to the fear that if they eat specific foods, they will die. This disorder is both a sensory disorder and an eating disorder.
Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) Treatment
Treatment outcomes for those with ARFID are similar to those in recovery for eating disorders. Some of these treatments include restoring weight and nutrition knowledge.
Therapies include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for ARFID and Family Based Therapy for ARFID.
ARFID can be fatal. If you think you (or someone you know) may be suffering from ARFID, please reach out to your doctor and/or health care team.
*Note that this article does not include the full scope of ARFID. Visit the resources below if you want more information.
- National Eating Disorders Association
- Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
- Acute Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition
- ARFID: Signs, Symptoms & Treatment
Picky Eater Test
Now that we’ve learned more about picky eating (and other disorders associated with picky eating), let’s move on to our test.
Please note that this is not a diagnosable test. Speak with your doctor or a registered dietitian if you have questions or concerns about your eating habits.
Picky Eater List Test
Below you will find 10 questions. Please answer them “yes” or “no.”
- Do you eat less than 30 foods?
- Do you eat less than 20 foods?
- Do you eat less than 10 foods?
- Can your foods not touch each other on your plate?
- Do you eat the same meals every day (or almost all of the same meals throughout a week)?
- Do you refuse to eat entire food groups? (such as all vegetables, all fruits, or all meats)
- Do you refuse to eat certain textures of foods (such as crunchy foods, soft foods, etc.)
- Do you only eat specific food colors? (such as only white and yellow foods)
- Do you have an interest in trying new foods that you haven’t eaten before?
- Have you added any new foods to your “like” list recently?
Picky Eater Test Results
Tally up your picky eater test answers. For every question that you answered “yes” to, you get one point.
Questions that you answered “no” to, you get zero points. Use your total number to find your “picky eater test ranking” below.
Food Lover (0-2 points)
There aren’t too many foods that you shy away from! You enjoy trying new foods and mix up your meals throughout the week. Variety is the spice of (your) life and food is enjoyable for you.
Challenge: Introduce 1 new food/meal a week to see if you can increase the number of foods you enjoy.
Average Picky Eater (3-5 points)
If you answered “yes” to 3 to 5 of the picky eater test questions, then you are an average picky eater. You know what foods you like and try to avoid the foods that you don’t.
While you sometimes avoid entire food groups, you also don’t fret if a new food is on your plate.
Challenge: Observe if you avoid entire food groups. If you do, then try one food from that food group this month. If you’re up for an extra challenge, then try two new foods from that food group.
Extremely Picky Eater (5-10 points)
If you got 5 to 10 points on the picky eater test, then this article is for you! You only like a select few foods, despise trying new foods, and certain food textures or colors are a “no-go.”
You may avoid social situations that are centered around food or decline social gatherings for fear of being pestered about your food choices.
Challenge: Below, you will find ways to incorporate healthful and nutritious foods into meals that you already enjoy. This month, try one of our tips and tricks mentioned below.
Creating Meals That You’ll Love
Determining if you are a picky eater is the first step. The second step is to learn how to include enough variety in your diet to ensure that you’re getting the nutrients your body needs.
Creating meals as a picky eater has never been easier with our helpful tips and tricks below.
Tips & Tricks
When trying to incorporate new foods into your diet, start slow. Even just one new meal a week (or month) is a great start. This will ensure that you don’t “go overboard” and can set yourself up for success.
After adding new foods to your diet, pick one meal each day to add/increase in heart healthy foods.
For example, add a few slices of avocado to your burger. Or, as breakfasts for picky eaters, toss some blueberries onto your oatmeal or add strawberries to your yogurt.
Try half-and-half dishes: half of the dish is how you normally eat it, and the other half includes heart healthy ingredients.
Make a homemade burger with half meat and half beans. The texture will still be there, but you’re adding in heart healthy nutrients and fiber from beans.
Finally, use your favorite foods as a base to adjust ingredients. Do you love smoothies? Add a handful of spinach to your next one.
Love pasta? Swap out white noodles for whole wheat noodles, whole grain noodles, chickpea noodles, black bean noodles, or spiralized zucchini.
Vegetables for Picky Eaters
Veggies for picky eaters is a hot topic. Many of us don’t care for vegetables, and if you’re a picky eater, then incorporating vegetables into your meals can be a challenge.
Don’t worry though, we’re here to help and we have lots of tips to share.
And don’t forget to download your FREE 10 Picky Eater Veggie Recipes PDF.
Riced cauliflower is a great way to incorporate vegetables for picky eaters and it can be a staple for vegetarian meals for picky eaters.
It has the same texture and a slightly similar flavor compared to regular rice, but it also contains a lot of vitamins and minerals from the cauliflower.
Riced cauliflower is found in the frozen section, or you can make your own cauliflower rice at home with a head of cauliflower.
You can start slow by swapping out half of your rice and adding in some riced cauliflower. This is a great idea for stir-fries, burritos, and soups.
Additionally, you can add riced cauliflower to dishes like:
- Oatmeal and porridge
- Soups and stews
- Stuffed peppers
- Chinese dishes
- Indian dishes
- Thai dishes
- Fried rice
- Burrito bowl
This is a great veggie recipe for picky eaters, especially if you like mashed potatoes. The recipe below takes about 25-30 minutes to make.
Serving size: 4 servings
- 1 head cauliflower, chopped
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 Tbsp light cream cheese
- 1 Tbsp Benson’s, Table Tasty Salt Substitute
- ⅛ tsp black pepper
- Bring a large pot with 1 to 2 inches of water to a boil.
- Place cauliflower in the steamer basket inside the pot and cover with a lid. Steam for 10-12 minutes or until cauliflower is very soft. (If you don’t have a steam basket, then you can boil the cauliflower instead).
- Once cauliflower is soft, thoroughly drain in a colander. Give it 1-2 minutes to release steam before returning it to your pot.
- Using a food processor, blend ½ of the cauliflower. Slowly add remaining cauliflower until it is creamy.
- Transfer cauliflower to a bowl and add parmesan cheese, cream cheese, Benson’s salt substitute, and black pepper.
- Stir ingredients together.
If you enjoy smoothies, then try adding some mild tasting veggies. By choosing mild veggies like zucchini, spinach, and riced cauliflower, you won’t alter the final flavor of your smoothie.
Smoothies are also a great way to “drink your veggies.” We tend to eat faster when we are drinking versus when we are eating chewable food.
If you’re not eager to add veggies to your smoothie, then remember that you likely won’t be able to taste them and that your drink will be gone sooner than a serving of vegetables on your plate.
Burger & Pasta Swaps
When making a burger patty, mix in some veggies and/or beans. Try adding black beans, sauteed mushrooms, or a mixture of bulgur and beans.
If you’re craving some classic mac and cheese, try creating your own with pureed butternut squash.
We love this Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese recipe. It includes the right creamy texture and delicious cheesy taste that you’d get from boxed mac and cheese.
Serving size: 10 servings
- 1 butternut squash, halved
- 1 12-oz box pasta (choose your favorite noodle shape)
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp curry
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 dash salt, to taste (omit or replace with Benson’s Table Tasty if following a low sodium nutrition plan)
- 1 dash black pepper, to taste
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut the butternut squash in half, remove the seeds, and place it on the baking sheet, skin side down.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until a fork can easily prick the skin.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to the package directions.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3-5 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Scrape butternut squash from skin and place it in a blender or food processor.
- Add onion, garlic, thyme, curry, and broth and purée until smooth.
- Return puréed butternut squash to skillet over medium heat. Add pasta, salt (optional), and black pepper.
- Stir until well combined.
- Sprinkle with parmesan cheese (if desired), and serve immediately.
Additional Veggie Swaps
If we’ve piqued your interest on how to “sneakily” add veggies to your meals, then we have even more ideas for you to try.
Additional vegetables for picky eaters swaps:
- Kale: wilt in soups, swap regular chips for kale chips
- Roast veggies instead of steaming them: adds new texture
- Add veggies to homemade turkey meatballs, try: cauliflower, broccoli slaw, or thin carrot sticks
- Swap French fries (white potatoes) for sweet potato fries or zucchini fries
- Swap bread buns for lettuce leaves
- Swap white noodle spaghetti and beef meatballs for zucchini noodles with turkey meatballs
- Swap jelly on your toast for avocado (if you already enjoy avocado on your toast, then try adding beans to the mashed avocado to increase the fiber)
- Swap bananas in your smoothie for frozen riced cauliflower (or do half-and-half)
Fish for Picky Eaters
Fish can be a tricky food to enjoy eating – especially for picky eaters. When starting to incorporate fish into your diet, start with mild-tasting fish/seafood.
We’ve included some examples below that also show the amount of omega-3 fatty acids per serving. Fish can be a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
This fatty acid is important for cell membrane structure, energy, has been proven to help prevent heart disease, and may help protect you from certain cancers.
|Swordfish, cooked||3 oz||0.48 gm|
|Grouper, cooked||3 oz||0.45 gm|
|Shrimp, cooked||3 oz||0.24 gm|
|Flounder, cooked||3 oz||0.19 gm|
|Tilapia, cooked||3 oz||0.15 gm|
|Cod, cooked||3 oz||0.14 gm|
|Halibut, cooked||3 oz||0.12 gm|
Another tip for picky eaters eating fish is to use marinades and seasonings (even just a squeeze of lemon juice) can help to “mask” the fishy taste.
Additionally, try adding a “crust” like crushed pistachios, crushed almonds, (or other nuts) to cooked fish. It may take some trial-and-error, but adding fish to your diet as a picky eater is possible!
How to Become a “Not-so-Picky” Eater
Making the choice to alter your picky eating has to come from a place of wanting to change your eating habits.
Are you ready to take your picky eater test results and turn them into “not-so-picky” eater test results?
Think about the foods that you don’t like. Now, try to figure out why you don’t like them. Is it their texture, smell, flavor, color, etc.?
If there is a common denominator, then you’ll be better equipped to incorporate those specific foods at a slower pace.
Incorporate some of your favorite foods into your new meals.
Do you love French fries? Great! Now, try adding a homemade burger that has veggies mixed with the meat. Is your favorite food pasta? How about trying some chickpea or lentil noodles with your meal?
This will be tough, but try new foods! If you don’t like a specific food, try it again at a different time.
Sometimes it takes a few times to start to like certain foods. If you decide that you really don’t like this food, then move on to the next one.
Everyone is entitled to have foods that they don’t like – whether you’re a picky eater or not.
Picky Eater Test Conclusion
Our picky eater test is meant to be a guide to help you understand if you need to incorporate more and different foods to meet your nutrient needs.
Excluding entire food groups, food colors, or even food textures can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
Food neophobia and ARFID can also be concerns when dealing with a picky eating habit/disorder.
Pay attention to your food preferences and how you react around food to determine if you need to seek advice from your doctor.
Starting with one food at a time, you have the choice to improve your health. Adding foods like vegetables, fish, beans, nuts and seeds, fruits, and whole grains are important for your body to function at its best.
If you’re needing or wanting to follow a heart healthy diet, then check out our article, 9 Best Heart Healthy Low Sodium Snacks.
Good luck on your journey and we are excited to hear which new foods have made it to your “like” list. Be sure to download your FREE 10 Picky Eater Veggie Recipes PDF!