Do Some Foods Gross You Out?
Picky eaters may have a serious disorder.
Oh, good. Another eating disorder.
This one is “selective eating disorder”, and people who have it either can’t or won’t eat any food beyond a select few items. It’s not about overeating or undereating; it’s about unreasonably limiting yourself to what you eat. And although that might not sound so bad at first, it can lead to some severe social problems.
Instead of always avoiding a few foods (like broccoli or tofu) selective eaters can eat only a few foods out of the vast number available to us. One patient told researchers at the Duke University Center for Eating Disorders that he could eat about four items, including chocolate milk and grilled-cheese sandwiches. Anything other than his preferred foods looks like “a plate of barf,” he said, according to the website LiveScience.
In a way, it was the sufferers themselves who brought recent attention to the disorder. Nancy Zucker, director of the Duke center, said she became interested in the problem when selective eaters began seeking help from the center. They told staff members that their eating habits were setting a bad example for their kids and were also limiting their social life. Selective eaters often don’t go out for meals because their favorite foods may not be served; and they tend to avoid places, like parties, where they feel they have to make excuses for not eating.
And when the center staff put up an online survey earlier this year asking about selective eating, they were astounded at the number of answers they got. A total of 7,500 people registered, and an estimated 11,000 started the survey but did not finish it. The survey included questions about the patient’s lifetime eating habits and his or her family’s relationship to food.