How to Handle Picky Eaters

Picky eaters can really test our paitence. But have no fear, there are ways to combat even the most finicky diner and still enjoy a nice meal. Modern Manners Guy has the scoop.

Richie Frieman
4-minute read
Episode #293

Every party has a pooper and that’s why we invited you!

That’s right, picky eaters of the world, you can ruin a meal faster than Kanye West can ruin an awards show.  

I totally understand that everyone has specific eating habits and preferences, however, dining with picky eaters can challenge even the strongest patience. We all have our breaking point and picky eaters tend to push us the brink with every whine and complaint, even before we step foot into the restaurant.



Why do picky eaters think it’s OK to make others suffer so they – and only they – can be happy? Well, my mannerly friends, it’s about time we tell ourselves, enough is enough!

But let's face it, even though it’s time we tell ourselves this, we all know that we won’t. Why? Because mannerly people (like you) are empathetic. We put up with others' idiosyncrasies so as to not offend. And yet, there are ways to manage even the pickiest eater. Here are my top 3 Quick and Dirty Tips for mandling a finicky diner:

Tip #1: Options, Options, Options

I recently published an episode called Dining Etiquette 2.0, in which I discussed the importance of being flexible. Being flexible in various situations (personal, professional, social, etc.) shows that you can go with the flow, are not bothered or unhinged by little things, and are willing to step out of your comfort zone every so often. Being flexible doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion or get what you want though, so remember that point too.

Inevitably, when dealing with a picky eater, you will end up sacrificing your enjoyment to avoid their pouting. But just like you can combat a toddler's meltdown with distractions, you can beat the (adult) picky eater to the punch by laying out options.

So when you know you’re going to be dining with a picky eater, do not stick to suggesting just one restaurant. Prep for the event ahead of time and bring many ideas to the table (no pun intended).  Go online and do your research. There are great sites like Yelp.com, OpenTable.com and even an app I use called Around Me, that offer tons of options in your area. Armed with plenty of options, you can satisfy the needs of your entire party (including the picky eater).

Just like you can combat a toddler's meltdown with distractions, you can beat the (adult) picky eater to the punch by laying out options.

Tip #2: Plan Ahead

There's another way to combat a negative diner and that is to always, always, always plan ahead.

My wife is a self-described Type A personality. And that means we always have plans. And guess what…it’s awesome! Sure we like to go with the flow on occasion, but when it matters, having plans is just easier.

When dealing with a picky eater, it's best to take the initiative and have plans set in advance. It will save you a boatload of time and frustration and allow you to actually enjoy your time with them. How.....?