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Adult Picky Eating Is Thought to Be Its Own Disorder

Adult Picky Eating Thought to Be Its Own Disorder

Do you hate fruit, vegetables, or food that isn't white? If so, there may finally be a scientific explanation for your picky eating habits. It's called selective eating disorder.

Researchers at the Duke Center for Eating Disorders say that preliminary results of a new survey suggest adults with an extremely limited food repertoire suffer from a previously unrecognized illness that they're calling selective eating disorder.

Rather than having a handful of food items they avoid, these diners eschew everything but several choice items. For reasons potentially both biological and behavioral, they reject foods based on qualities other than taste, like sight and smell.

Those of you acquainted with extremely picky eaters: do you consider it an illness — or simply fussy behavior?

Image Source: Thinkstock
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lolagirl4u lolagirl4u 4 years
Excuse my typo..."Just because you cannot see it or understand it, does not mean that it is NOT real or needs to be treated.
lolagirl4u lolagirl4u 4 years
I am one of these very picky eaters. I am angry that so many people out there are so ignorant and insensitive to peoples' feelings when it comes to something they know nothing about. If you have not lived with this "problem" then you cannot understand what it is like. As someone else had posted, I do not and would not ever choose to eat this way and have been ridiculed and made to feel like a freak my whole life. I am 36 years old and have been this way since my mother tried to have me eat whole food as an infant. My parents did not coddle me and would try to make me eat different foods which I would then just gag on or chew on for literally hours. My brothers eat everything that is put in front of them so this is not because of lack of trying on my parents part. Did my parents forcefeed me food to the point where I am rebelling against it? Not a chance. But they did try to introduce new foods to me like any other parent and when I rejected it they continued to try but not in a way that I would have an issue with the food because of it. You see, the issue with food was already there, it was the way I was born. I am not trying to be excused from any part of society and again I would do anything I could to change this. I do not have the need to get attention by having some made up disorder. I would live my life happily, for the rest of my life, being perfectly "normal" and with no "disorders". But this is not how it works. I have been to so many doctors and therapists to try and explain my situation but get nowhere. Maybe if people like the one's here weren't so negative and doubtful of this, the research and help so desperately needed could be found. But if people think it's a waste of time and money then nothing will get done. I was almost in tears reading some of these posts as this reaction is typical but tiring. Please try to be more understanding of people and their problems. Just because you cannot see it or understand it, does not mean that it is real or needs to be treated. God Bless you all....I hope that at least some of you will take another look at what you think is another thing to blame on the parents or people looking to have a label placed on them. There are those people, but I am not one of them nor do I think the people like me are either. Open your hearts and minds, everything is not so black and white.
donotjudgemeIampicky donotjudgemeIampicky 4 years
I agree with 25yearoldpickyeater that it is something out of our control. I try and try "new" foods always with the same result. I want to like things like lettuce, onions, tomatoes, fish, and other things with offensive textures. But with out fail if I try to eat those things I throw up. Both my parents were very good eaters and there was always a wide variety of foods available, but as long as I remember I've had this issue with food. My parents would ask me to "at least try" everything, and somethings I was able to keep down and others I threw up right at the dinner table. Trust me when I say that if I knew of a way to over come this I would do whatever I needed to do to make that happen. Being a picky eater is not something a person would choose to do to themselves. Aside from not being able to eat as healthy as others, it is terribly embarrassing to try to explain to a boss/coworker/friend/date why you aren't eating something. People who don't have this issue have no idea how difficult it is to live with. I am not being stubborn, and that is something people just don't understand. I adjust my social life around dinners and events. I generally avoid eating with new friends/coworkers for as long as possible because I get made fun of. I even have a few friends that think it's funny to play a game called "what will I eat?" Some even think it's such a novelty that they tell their friends and I feel like a sideshow attraction. I wish that people wouldn't judge me for the way I eat, but they do.
Susannah-Chen Susannah-Chen 5 years
25yearoldpickyeater, sorry to hear you are going through this. Thankfully, I think people are becoming more aware of it as an issue, and hopefully this will make people more sensitive to it moving forward. Hang in there!
danakscully64 danakscully64 5 years
Most people I've known who only eat junk food are just picky and as lizlee said, most eating habits are just bad habits. Sadly, parents who don't parent is a big cause of this. Great post, Lizlee, you pretty much said what I was thinking. I'm shocked I'm not more picky when it comes to food, I grew up on McDonalds Happy Meals, other fast food, Hamburger Helper, and Tuna Casserole. I changed because I wanted to, I think many people are just stubborn. They think the food is going to be bad so they won't even try it or they'll convince themselves that it's terrible, so they won't like it when they do try it. I changed my eating habits at 18, others can do the same. I can understand texture issues, I have them too, but I don't shun a veggie until I've tried it cooked many ways and I keep an open mind. I just hate the attitude "I'm a meat and potatoes kind of girl/guy" where the person refuses to eat anything else. It's very hard to cook for these types of people.
lizlee89 lizlee89 5 years
I don't think that it's fair to classify pickiness as an eating disorder, however I can't say it's normal for someone to not eat white food (or something like that). If you have an abnormal aversion to a kind of food (like I once saw a show where a woman was terrified of peaches - she would scream if she even saw a peach. That's when you know you have a real psychological issue. However, bad habits like never eating vegetables or fruits, or constantly only eating sweet stuff (like my grandfather) are just that - bad habits. I am a kindergarten teacher and I see how bad habits, especially those having to do with nutrition, develop - because of parents who don't parent. So many parents let their children do whatever they want, include eating whatever they crave. Those children grow up to be adults who eat whatever they want. People like this are, in my opinion, not examples of mental illness but irresponsibility...
Ladytron7000 Ladytron7000 5 years
My brother's ex fit this. Basically ate only ham and potatoes. Her parents always gave her what she wanted (still do) and never made her try anything and now she has the palette of a four-year-old. It's extremely annoying. I've wondered if it's anorexia cloaked as a long list of foods she won't eat.
wunami wunami 5 years
I think making this a medically recognized disorder is going overboard.
Zulkey Zulkey 5 years
I swear to god right before this came out I was wondering whether my FIL's picky eating was possibly a disorder.
limelindsey limelindsey 5 years
This is sort of a first world problem, isn't it? Or maybe just an American problem? I mean, maybe for some people, picky eating is an associated symptom of anxiety disorders. But for the rest, I just think it's more of a societal thing. I know grown men whose diet basically consists of chicken fingers and fries with ketchup (a kid's condiment, in my opinion), plain hamburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches because their parents never made them try new foods. We always had to eat at least three bites of something before we could decide if we liked it or not. It made me and my sisters very adventurous in our food choices. Maybe this will tick some people off, but I feel the overindulgent parenting of the millennial generation is ruining people for the wonders of the world. Being sheltered is rarely a good thing, and in this case, I think it's debilitating.
SaraNoH SaraNoH 5 years
I agree with ticamorena. Perhaps if it's an extreme picky behavior that is linked with anxiety issues and other known disorders it could be considered an ED, or maybe a form of EDNOS. I know a lot of people recovering from EDs can be "picky" eaters because of their past experience...
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 5 years
Are we going to label everything as an eating disorder? Unless we're talking about being very very very picky, I think calling picky eating a disorder is ridiculous.
ticamorena ticamorena 5 years
sometimes i think it can be a manifestation of an illness or disorder - like severe anxiety problems, post traumated stress syndrome, OCD or anorexia - as this need to control to the extreme different aspects of food is often to the point where it interferes with most aspects of the person's lifes. but in other circumstances it really is just "fussiness" - like not liking a certain texture of foods (i dislike powdery foods like potatoes) or smells or colours, without it being rooted in something fundamentally disordered about the person. it can then be likeneed to other tastes e.g. tastes in fashion or music etc but people tend to care when it comes to food because of how social/communal food is.
Ladyseven Ladyseven 5 years
I think this is a bit of an overreaction. Unless there's a serious phobia relating to the foods, it's picky eating. I HATE seafood, and will do basically anything to not eat it, but if it was a life-or-death situation, I would. If it was such a crippling dislike that I would rather die than eat it, yeah- THAT is an illness.
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