By: Alison Brewer, Intern
As a child, I had the traditional outlook of “macaroni and cheese is good, broccoli is bad.” When you’re young, it’s almost like you are supposed to be picky. As I grew, I became more open to new foods so that I now have a very short list of ‘I Don’t Like You’ foods. However, the title of picky eater doesn’t outgrow everyone and has recently been identified as a potential eating disorder.
Eating disorders are more common than people think. One out of 100 kids will struggle with one. We’ve heard of bulimia and anorexia, but these are not the only eating disorders in existence. Doctors have changed the term of the condition ‘picky eating’ to ‘selective eating’ when it seems we do not outgrown it. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, will now contain ‘selective eating’ in the 2013 edition.
Researchers from Duke University and the University of Pittsburgh have started a registry of picky eaters, allowing individuals to input habits and characteristics of eating patterns online. They hope through this connection, identification, support, a potential treatment will be produced.
Habits of Selective Eaters
It seems the major habit for those with selective eating is not based on calories or health issues, but more on a mental block for allowing certain foods to contact their tongue. Some doctors hint there may be a connection to obsessive-compulsive tendencies while others indicate it may be more connected to attention deficit disorder. The true reason is unknown, but is probably more accurately decided on an individual basis. Yet, because of the general habit, doctors can agree that nutritional issues will arise or continue to persist without proper balanced diets.
One participant of the research registry stated that she had a list of ten foods she had consumed since the age of three. She stated that putting certain foods in her mouth caused her to gag and her body would not physically allow her to swallow. The same participant avoids any social eating situations, which cause anxiety, and fears that her habits have been passed to her 5 year old who is already exhibiting similar behaviors. The client also shared that during family Thanksgiving dinner, she hides in the playroom with the kids or washes dishes during the entire feeding process to avoid more awkward situations.
If you have a food aversion and worry about the severity, talk to someone about it. You can get therapy and work though it.
For more information on the research registry, visit eatingdisorders.mc.duke.edu.