When I was really little, I decided it was wrong to eat animals. I also decided it was wrong to eat eggplant, pumpkin, egg yolks, cottage cheese, spinach, almonds, mushrooms, blueberries, peanuts, and a way-too-long list of other things.

When I was in elementary school, my mom took me to a nutritionist. She told me to start eating apples with peanut butter. So I did. And I discovered that I loathed every kind of peanut butter except the Skippy smooth kind.

I was forced into pescetarianism for a while, which is basically being a vegetarian who eats fish. I learned that I despised shrimp and salmon, and I never even tried lobster. It looks at you! Gross! (Secret: I’ve always loved clam chowder, but I was too stubborn to eat it.)

My picky eating didn’t get in the way of my daily life too much, except for having to bring a sandwich to school every day and barely touching the food that I got on an airplane and asking for all these substitutions in restaurants and wanting to be polite at friends’ houses, but simply not being able to eat what they had for me. OK, fine. It got in the way a lot—not to mention the health issues and the fights at the dinner table.

I’m not going to tell you that I had some magical epiphany and started eating all of the things I hated at once. I didn’t. I will NEVER eat eggplant or lobster, but I might make an exception for blueberries or egg yolks if they’re cooked or served with other things. I just have to start tricking myself into thinking I like things. If I eat spinach and cheese dip with chips, it’s super delicious, but I’m also eating spinach. And smoothies are good, too, with chocolate protein powder and fruit and stuff in it. And, finally, I just had to learn to sometimes eat the things I hate. Usually I don’t, but if I’m at a friend’s house, I’ll just force it down.

I’m still pretty picky and I’m still a vegetarian, but I’m slowly becoming more healthy with every little trick I discover. Maybe, eventually, I’ll stop acting like a spoiled brat, learn to eat what I’m given and have an easier time in restaurants. Until then, smoothies and apples with peanut butter will have to suffice. ♦