Being a Picky Eater in S. Korea

Well, I know it has been a while since I’ve updated. I have much to update about but I have an issue on my mind that I just feel like discussing.

I am fat. I know I am. I’ve come to accept it. It’s no longer baby fat. It’s not going to be grown out of.

And with being fat comes issues with food. I hate food. I really hate food. Think about it~ Drug addicts don’t need drugs to survive. They think they do at the moment. But nobody really does. Same goes for alcoholics. We don’t need alcohol to live until 75 (though there are studies that say a glass of wine is good for the heart, but that’s not what I mean here). But food… Food you need to live or you die. Food is such a vital role in our survival. And yet, those with eating disorders, whether they are skinny or fat, have the hardest addiction to kick because it stares at us in the face multiple times a day and without it, we die. There is no avoiding it or you are dead. But with too much, you die as well.  It’s a battle that seems like you can’t win. My heart goes out to these people.

Like I said before, I have issues with food. I hate it. I despise it. If I had the strength, I wish I could be anorexic sometimes but I can’t. My will to survive is too strong. Why do I hate it so much? I’m a picky eater. Now, picky eaters have this horrible image. Yes, we don’t eat a lot of food. We are content with certain flavors, especially some bland stuff, and eating it over and over again. There is nothing wrong with that to me. So I get the comments, “You just haven’t tried it enough. Try it again.” “You shouldn’t be so closed-minded.”, “You are restricting yourself.” and it’s met with a lot of annoyance. Understandable annoyance. We really do understand. But if a smell offends you, do you eat it? Like scorpion or some fish? Many people just don’t eat it. And it’s okay for them. But because we hate so many things, many think we are just stubborn. But if you ask many picky eaters why they don’t eat something, it’s because of the taste or the smell that offends them. And even the texture. And so we gag it back up. It doesn’t even go down our throats. It just comes right back up. For example, I don’t like steak because it’s too thick for me. It’s too hard to swallow for me. And usually, we have a pattern of things we don’t like. Such as all or most fish (like me), or certain greens, certain sauces, etc etc.

I wish I could let people know that we aren’t crazy. It feels like a real disorder, a real disease, but nobody takes us seriously. It drives me so crazy that for this reason, I wish I were anorexic. So people could see my distaste for eating because it becomes such an issue for those around me. This was a problem I had in the US and it wasn’t too bad due to the large variety of food there. It got easier to deal with and too many people weren’t uncomfortable.

Now, in Korea, this problem is exasperated. Foreign food is limited compared to the US and most foreign food is labeled as unhealthy so many don’t want to eat it. And much of the food I don’t eat is apart of Korean cuisine (for example, I dislike soups and stews, which is a HUGE part of Korean cooking. I just really hate boiled food). So I am constantly faced with this food that I generally hate at home. I could avoid it so easily at home. But now it’s so difficult because everything is like this. So this problem just amplifies itself here. So I give the foreign population a bad image but it’s really mostly my horrible eating pattern. It drives others crazy and it gets us into arguments over what to eat. And sometimes, to avoid this, I say I have an allergy just to avoid the hassle. But there isn’t much I can do. This huge dilemma causes me to get really depressed and angry. At myself mostly. I have tried repeatedly to open myself up to Korean food. I’ve done pretty well so far. But I’m just having such a hard time. It makes me want to go home. It makes me want to do a lot of irrational and crazy things. But I can’t. I must get through it. Somehow.

But I want people to know that this is real disorder. We aren’t crazy or just being annoying. My friend once found a preliminary research study on picky eating and they are trying to make it a real eating disorder. One recognized by doctors everywhere. But it will be a long way before this happens. Here is an article talking about this. I want others to know that you are not alone. There are others.  We can get through it together.

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4 thoughts on “Being a Picky Eater in S. Korea

  1. Mark

    Hey. Just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in this matter.
    im a 26 year old man. my whole life i have been faced with being a picky eater. you are right. people dont understand. If i put food in my mouth i know i dont like.. then i gag it back up. its automatic. i cant control it. I’m also visiting seoul in a couple of weeks and im kind of worried about eating. I guess im going to be living off plain and bland fast food. I hope we can one day get over this eating disorder. and maybe in the future it WILL be recognised as a real disorder.

    • Hey!
      I’m glad I’m not alone. It is hard to live off bland food here because I tend to get yelled for or some remarks about it. I wish people would just leave us alone. Why do people feel the need to judge how we eat? It never made sense. It’s about as dumb as commenting on someone’s choice of clothing. One is more acceptable but both are completely wrong. We will just have to work through this. We can get through it. One day it will be a real disorder that people will recognize. Thank you for your support!

  2. Crystal York

    When I started reading this, I was looking for ideas of what you DO eat in S. Korea. I feel as I am also a picky eater, but I’ve just never really been exposed to many different things. I am overweight, mostly carbs. I can’t eat anything off of a bone. I always pick at meat and people always tell me, “there’s still meat on there.” Also, I really don’t eat fruits or vegetables. I like apples, carrots, lettuce, but I don’t know where to begin, when it comes to stepping out of my comfort zone and try all new things, especially fish or seafood.

    • Hi!
      As far as what I do eat, my picky eating has changed a bit since I first arrived. There are American chains like On The Border, McDonalds, Popeyes, Papa Johns, Dominos, etc. If you find them, just do your best and stick to plain stuff. That’s what I do. There are Costco’s here so I do go there from time to time. Occassionally, I look at some places in Itaewon, such as the Flying Pan (a pancake/waffle house) or Richard CopyCat’s Diner (they have things like Grilled Cheese, french fries, buffalo wings, etc) and you can order in English. As far as Korean good, it’s so hard to eat here since everything has fish (I hate fish) in it. Or if it’s not fish, it’s some sort of silly soup dish, where as I don’t eat hot liquids. If you can try, Andong JJimDalk is very good. I love that as well as Dalgkalbi. I eat tons of Chicken dishes so most chicken dishes satisfy me. I don’t really like pork but Samgyupsal is okay. Also, Bulgogi is alright for me as well since most of this meat is boneless, I tend not to leave much meat behind. Sorrento Italian restaurant is good and Saboten, as well as Cocoichibanya (a Japanese Curry chain) is great since it’s curry with no vegetables. Perfect for us who hate vegetables. And while I was terrified at first, Indian Curry is actually quite amazing! I highly recommend it. You can find some Indian curry restaurants everywhere in Seoul, such as Insadong, Jongo, Gwanghwamun, etc. I hope this helps you find some peace. It is possible to eat here, though a bit difficult.

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