Other People’s Fucking Diets

The life and times of a picky eater in a world of other people’s dietary restrictions.

A few years ago, I was living in Atlanta and my closest circle of friends all had dietary restrictions. There was my roommate/best friend, who was unfortunately diagnosed with a gluten allergy after stomach pains and a strange meniscus pain laid her out for the entirety of the most academically challenging year of her life. There was the Hindu, who didn’t eat beef, and the Muslim, who didn’t eat pork. There was the girl who became obsessed with fitness, and, raised by radical hippies, was already inclined to go organic.

Despite living in a city where we could get almost anything (save for, of course, my beloved Tex Mex), our girly dinners were limited to like, four restaurants. I officially lost my veto power. As the baby of a large family, I always had veto power. I ate Happy Meals at almost every family yum cha until I was… much older than I should have been. And then there was the home entertaining. You know what is decidedly unfun in a world of a million diets? Dinner parties. It forced us to get creative, lest dinners at our place turn into an endless wedding menu tasting of sad chicken.

Of course, as soon as I left Atlanta, I went the opposite direction and got selfish as fuck. At least I tried. You know that song “No New Friends?” How about “No New Diets?” Of course, my two newest close friends were vegetarians. And picky eaters themselves. No New Friends would have been the only effective way of avoiding these dumb bitches. (Really wonderful people, I swear.) But then I got lonely and sad.

Years of being surrounded by people who dictated my social eating choices deluded me into forgetting that I am a picky eater. An asshole, even. (I initially tried to combine those sentences. It was more disgusting than oatmeal.) I thought I ate everything. Meat (all of the meats!), gluten, animal byproducts, animal products (which is in fact something entirely different from byproducts), fruit (Sharon, you’re very weird).

And to some very twisted extent, it’s technically true. I will eat anything at least once, so long as I don’t know what it is. So if I can see it’s a roach, I probably won’t eat it. Then again, my cousins convinced me to eat frog legs by claiming they were chicken intestines. For one thing, why did I find that more comforting than the truth? Also, legs do not look anything like intestines.

The ugly truth reared its head when I flew up to New York to interview for the job I now have. At dinner with my oldest friend and her girlfriend, both vegetarians, we were trying to decide on a pizza. There were several appetizing meat-free options so I did not withhold my veto of their first choice. (Arugula, which is apparently spelled with two Us, who knew? Anyway, gross.) Anyway, this blog came up. My plan was to explore other people’s diets, talk about the way other people’s choices limit my social appetite, and my friend’s girlfriend goes, “What about yours?”

I have already mentioned two of the things I hate to eat and they are just items in entire categories of food I avoid. So while I’m hoping my friends will open up about what they eat and don’t eat and why, in a series with a title I hope you find charming (“What the Fuck Are You Eating?”), I’m also hoping this blog will force me to make some changes. Try new things. Eat less sugar. Like, way less sugar. I’m basically 90% sugar. And while reading someone else talk about her attempts to overcome her bitter hatred of bitter greens sounds absolutely excruciating, I assure you that the origin stories of each of the things I don’t (currently) eat will be at least mildly entertaining. (Underpromising and overdelivering as always.)

Welcome to Other People’s Fucking Diets.

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