Picky Eating can be defined along either or both of two dimensions:
- The extent to which one’s diet is restricted – Picky Eaters tend to exclude a great many things from their diet, often whole food groups, such as fruits or vegetables. Particular textures may be excluded also.
- The reasons why one’s diet is restricted – Many Picky Eaters do not on the whole refuse their avoided foods because they just don’t like the taste, or because of some aversive physiological reaction to them. Often they have never even tried the foods they avoid. They just can’t bring themselves to put these foods in their mouth. What happens when they do is another story – they may well dislike certain tastes or textures to the point of not being able to tolerate them. Many picky eaters will say that certain foods just don’t seem like food to them. For many the avoidance is more like an instinct about certain foods than an attitude learned from experience with that particular food.
There are other characteristics of Picky Eating which some but not all picky eaters may share. It usually starts in late infancy/early childhood. Certainly, most picky eaters will have developed their problem before the age of 5, and the majority of those within the first 2 years of life.
Some picky eaters also have some degree of OCD, and some have a parent who is restricted (though usually to a lesser extent) in the range and types of food they will eat. Many people have a few specific foods they don’t like, or even can’t bear. Picky Eaters have rather a lot of these (!), often excluding whole food groups, even when they have no experience with them. This in my opinion is what makes Picky Eating different from the food preferences of the rest of the population.
If you identify yourself with picky eating for any reason, please feel free to contribute here.