Is your child a picky eater or, a very picky eater? Are you an adult who can only stand to eat a just a few food items and hate all others? This may be a case of selective eating disorder (SED). Selective eating disorder is a poorly understood eating disorder when a child or adult has a very limited number of food items they “can” eat. They avoid eating all other foods. There is a similarity to food neophobia, an avoidance to eating new or different foods.
The root cause of this disease is not well understood. It seems that a person’s biology or psychology may play a role in causing this disorder. According to Dr. Nancy Zucker, the Director of the Duke Center for Eating Disorders, selective eaters tend to like similar foods, that are bland and processed. They love salt, peanut butter,certain meats like bacon. Vegetables are a major turnoff.
Picky eaters may lead you to think of a class of Americans called “supertasters.” According to Dr. Linda Bartoshuk, professor of otolaryngology (study of eye, nose, & throat) and psychology, around 25 percent of the American population is born as “supertasters,” a group with an unusually high number of taste buds. The increased number of taste buds changes the way food tastes for these people. How a foods taste to someone determines if that person will like it or not. And what their diet will be. Since diets can contain major risk factors for many chronic diseases, it has become important to find the cause of these eating disorders.
Picky eaters may not be “supertasters” because picky eaters seem to be turned off by the sight, smell, and texture of foods, according to .Dr. Bradley C. Riemann, the clinical director of obsessive compulsive disorders at Rogers Memorial Hospital in Milwaukee.
Also, this disorder should not be confused anorexia nervosa (a disorder characterized by a fear of food due to issues related to body weight).
How to Help
One important thought to remember is that the picky eater is not trying to be difficult or stubborn. A small number of children do not grow out of their picky eating behavior. They become adults who without help develop problems with their social life and careers. Therefore, if this behavior persists into preteen age, parents should speak with their pediatricians who then may refer them to a specialist.