If you know me well, you surely know that I am quite picky when it comes to food. There are certain food that I don't eat. As a matter of fact, I have been a picky eater since childhood. Back then, my pickiness was actually far worse compared to now.
It didn't start off that way though. Since shortly after I was born, I had been living with my grandparents in Kulim, as both my parents were working in Kuala Lumpur. In the beginning, my grandparents fed me with many different types of food, and I always ate them without any issues.
When I was 1 year and 6 months, my grandparents brought me to Australia to visit my aunt and her family. There, I was often praised for being a good boy, especially that I never complained about or refused to eat any food that I was given.
Subsequently at 3 years old, my grandparents planned to bring me to Australia for a second time. I had agreed to go and my grandparents had bought the flight tickets. My parents came to Kulim to bring me and my grandparents to Kuala Lumpur, where our flight would be departing from.
On the night before travelling to Kuala Lumpur, fatefully, I asked my father a question "How does an aeroplane fly and how does a rocket fly?" My father tried to explain it to me in a simple manner: A rocket flies straight up to the sky, while an aeroplane takes off horizontally before it slowly goes up to the sky.
However, I had a terrible misunderstanding about my father's explanation, particularly the "slowly goes up" part. I thought he meant that aeroplanes fly vertically upwards just like rockets, with the difference being that aeroplanes turn upwards gradually rather than going straight up from the start. That sounded so scary to me!
I started feeling very scared about taking a flight to Australia. Although I had previously flewn to Australia before, I had no memories of it due to my young age. I didn't voice out my fear to my parents or grandparents as I felt there was nothing they could do about it.
At that time, my parents who hadn't been living with me tried to persuade me to stay in Kuala Lumpur with them while my grandparents go to Australia. To avoid going on an aeroplane, I quickly agreed to stay in Kuala Lumpur with my parents.
No matter how my grandparents tried to convince me, I refused to go to Australia with them. They were of course very disappointed about that. I cannot remember exactly how long my grandparents' trip to Australia was, but my rough estimate is a few weeks.
In Kuala Lumpur, my parents took care of me for the first time. They pampered me a lot and I had a great time. However, there was an issue. The food my parents gave me was quite different from the food my grandparents fed me with, and I didn't like the change.
Seeing that I didn't like the food they gave me, my parents didn't force me to eat it. I only ate rice and soup, which were the only food in common with what my grandparents fed me with. That was the case throughout my stay in Kuala Lumpur.
After being pampered by my parents, I refused to return to Kulim with my grandparents after their trip to Australia ended. They still brought me back to Kulim, and I actually cried throughout the journey and refused to get down the car for 20 minutes after arriving in Kulim.
I then settled down in Kulim with my grandparents, but my eating was never the same again. My grandparents tried to reintroduce the food they fed me with previously, but I refused to eat it again after I stopped eating it for some time in Kuala Lumpur.
Literally, the only food I ate were milk, rice, noodles, soup, eggs, bread, biscuits and cakes. I refused to eat anything else, including any meat or vegetables. As you can see, my diet was so lacking in proteins, vitamins and minerals. Consequently, I was always quite thin. At one point, I became quite sick due to malnutrition, and my family GP had to give me some vitamins.
There were several occasions where my grandparents forced me to eat some meat and vegetables, but I always resisted violently. I particularly hated eating meat. In the end, my grandparents just couldn't change my eating habits.
At 6 years old, I became interested in trying pizzas. I had been seeing Pizza Hut's advertisements on the television and the pizzas looked so appetising. That was literally the first time in my life where I chose to try new food on my own will. Pizza Hut certainly did a very good job in advertising!
My grandparents were delighted and they brought me to the nearest Pizza Hut. I really liked the taste of pizzas. Since then, I had been eating it regularly. When I was in Year 1 of primary school, my grandparents would buy a pizza for me almost every Sunday.
Later, I had an issue with pizzas. One night when I was in Kuala Lumpur, my mother ordered Pizza Hut delivery for me. However, the restaurant mistakenly brought a pizza with stuffed crust rather than the standard pan crust.
A stuffed crust pizza has thick mozzarella cheese in its crust. I liked the cheese so much. After that experience, I kept wanting pizzas with stuffed crust. However, I soon became only interested in the pizza crust, not wanting to eat the other parts of the pizza at all.
My grandparents were so upset when they knew about that. They banned me from ordering any stuffed crust pizza for some time and made sure I ate the whole slice of a pizza every time. Thankfully though, the issue was soon rectified without major difficulties.
At 7 years old, my grandparents introduced me to KFC. Even though they knew it isn't very healthy, at least the fried chicken was a good source of protein for me considering that I wouldn't eat any other meat.
As the fried chicken looked quite appetising, I didn't resist trying it. Quickly, I fell in love with KFC's fried chicken. My grandmother forced me to eat KFC's mash potato as well. While I hated it in the beginning, I was liking it a lot before long. My grandparents wouldn't let me have KFC too often, only once every 2 weeks at most.
The real change came when I was 9 years old. I had begun learning about the importance of balanced diet in school. Instead of forcing me to eat like they did previously, my grandparents took a new approach by telling me nicely. I started eating fish, meat and vegetables regularly.
Within a year, my weight went up from 23kg to 35kg. My teacher was quite surprised about that. Despite that, I was still very picky in eating. As I only ate some of the food my grandmother cooked, she often had to cook some separate dishes for me.
While I had started eating many different types of food, there were even more types of food which I didn't want to eat. I was always quite reluctant to try new food, unless if it's similar enough to something which I liked to eat. Over many years, I only tried a few new food.
After I got into Taylor's College and NUMed, peer pressure from my friends ocassionally resulted in me trying new food. Usually, I would end up liking the new food I tried. With that, I became more open to trying out new food. However, there are still certain food I really don't like and I refuse to eat, a good example being tofus.
Despite my pickiness in eating, the good thing is that in almost any restaurant, I can find a food item that suits me. Therefore, I almost never had any problems when going out with my friends. I am also able to eat very spicy foods, in fact I love eating them.
When I was in MBBS Stage 5 2018/2019, my group mates were asking me how do I generalise the food I eat and the food I don't eat. I couldn't think of a good way to explain it, but I tried to explain by saying that the food I eat generally has a well-defined taste. My explanation left my group mates even more confused and they got annoyed.
When I was a Teaching Fellow at NUMed, one of my friends who has a great interest in cooking stated that based on her observations, the food I eat are generally the more mainstream foods. I found her explanation quite accurate. I appreciate that she made an effort to get to know me better, unlike my group mates in Stage 5 2018/2019.
Now, after so many years, I am still picky in eating, though it has very much improved. I am eating a wide variety of food. I eat most of the food my grandmother cooks every day. There are still certain food liked by many people which I don't eat. I try out new food regularly, but only if I can be sure that I will like it.
Looking back, the whole issue that led to me becoming so picky in eating started all because of my misunderstanding about how aeroplanes fly. It's crazy to think how such a small incident would end up changing my whole life.