Adult Picky Eaters UK

For Picky-Eating Adults in the UK and worldwide

If Picky Eating is a Disorder How does that make you feel? December 5, 2006

Filed under: General — briant @ 2:54 pm

So I’m a picky eater and now I find out that picky eating is a disorder.  I guess for some there could be some comfort in knowing it’s a disorder because then there is some hope it can be cured or fixed.  For others if probably makes them feel relieved, like it’s not their fault, they can’t help but be this way.  Maybe there are some who would be angry because they don’t want to believe they have a disorder… what are some other reactions?

For me… I’m not sure how I feel… I don’t think I have a disorder but in some way I guess I feel I do… I get no comfort in thinking it’s a disorder… probably because I don’t feel I need to be cured or fixed but also because the medical community has no idea how to deal with us……well any thoughts?

BrianT

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7 Responses to “If Picky Eating is a Disorder How does that make you feel?”

  1. Bonnie Says:

    Hi Brian,

    I do think it is a disorder. Based on the definiton posted earlier it certainly seems so. It disrupts my life, it impacts both my mental and physical health. I just wish someone in the medical profession would take time to really examine it and recognize it as a true eating disorder.

    I already have a diagnosed eating disorder (Binge Eating Disorder) which in a way I think may be realated to this somehow. When I was diagnosed with BED, I kept thinking they were wrong but as I got into treatment I realized that I did have it. I always just assumed I was weak and had no self control which is simiar to how I feel about my picky eating. If someone actually diagnosed my picky eating as a disorder that I could get help for I think I would have a similar reaction. It would mean that it is something that I cannot necessarily help-I am not choosing to be “picky” and there is a reason why I can’t try new foods. I would find it a relief and would welcome any sort of treatment that would help.

  2. Claire Says:

    Hi Brian
    I like to think that it’s a disorder, or at least a recognised phenomenon. To know that I’m not the only one like this is a great comfort to me – there definitely is some strength in numbers. Also, it gives one a degree of support against the “haters” so to speak – it can be upsetting, not to mention psychologically damaging, for one’s picky eating to be seen as a choice, or as a childish idiosyncracy, and it is unbelievably empowering to be able to point out to people who don’t understand it and are quick to judge, that there are others out there just like me. Granted, this only goes some small way to combatting unsympathetic or judgemental responses from people, especially since the phenomenon is so poorly understood. But it is a start.

    Until it is recognised by the medical community, however, and not just swept under the carpet, I don’t think an effective “cure” will be forthcoming. I also think it needs to be differentiated from the more traditional eating disorders, associated aetiologically as they are with ongoing emotional distress and with body image. For me, it has nothing to do with my body image, and the only emotional distress involved (at least since onset during infancy) has been an outcome, not a cause of my eating restrictions.

    If counting it as a disorder leads to a more sympathetic or understanding society, that can only be a good thing, and if it leads to some sort of treatment and/or prevention, then so much the better.

  3. Gingersnap Says:

    As I said in my other post, I don’t like the idea of needing to be “fixed”. I appreciate that some people are so restricted that their day-to-day lives are impacted badly and I feel for them. In my case, people simply don’t like my food choices.

    The truth is that I simply have no desire to eat certain foods even if they didn’t repulse me. I have yet to hear of a compelling rational reason to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or coleslaw. There is no intrinsic health benefit or virtue in particular foods, only in eating enough (and maybe taking a vitamin pill).

  4. Claire Says:

    I think on one level you have a point there Ginger. I think if it is not something that needs to be “fixed”, then it shouldn’t be something that other people feel the need to judge or criticise. But I do think the criticism comes from a mindset that it is a dietary choice, which it is not, and I think viewing it as a continuum that includes an acutal disorder at one end of it would go some way towards this. I also think that everyone who wants to should be entitled to make free choices about their eating, which many picky eaters feel they are not able to do.

    There is also the argument that as adults, we should be more robust to the criticisms of others. But stigma does hurt, and statistically, I do not believe that not being able to eat any fruit, vegtables, seafood, eggs, rice, pasta, nuts, pulses, seeds, spices and so on is “normal”. Aside from the fact that it’s rather difficult in purely practical terms.

    As a female, also, my picky eating means that I have to eat predominantly starch, carbs, fat and sugar (or else starve), which aside from any long-term damage to my bowel, means that I have more body fat than I’d like, and there’s very little I can do about it unless I change my diet. Which I don’t have the luxury of doing. On top of that, there is free radical damage, which since my anti-oxidant intake is way lower than it might be if I could eat even a single fruit, is probably building up something worse. And there is evidence that supertasters are more susceptible to bowel cancer. I don’t think the research has been done on picky eaters, especially since the stigma has made us try and hide it so much. But the same logic has to apply, so the risk must apply to other pickies too.

    I’d be very interested in finding ways to improve my eating, (though I think the notion of it being “fixable” is an oversimplification, I think you have to do it laboriously food-by-food), and certainly, the improvements that I have made in this domain during my life have vastly improved the quality of it. And from these experiences, I know I’m missing out on a whole bunch of delicious stuff.

    So I think there are two things going on – for extreme picky eaters, its impact on health (feared or otherwise) and body image can cause distress, as well as not being afforded the ability to make free food choices, and denied the enjoyment of whole food groups. The responses of others which can be annoying, embarrassing, or even hurtful, are then a separate issue. If you only suffer from the latter, and you’re otherwise happy with your eating, then good for you.

    Sorry that was a bit rambley, I haven’t quite got my brain in gear tonight.

  5. Gingersnap Says:

    I understand what you’re saying (although we disagree on the health aspects) but I don’t know if giving us yet another label would be helpful.

    People already think we have some sort of ED tied to body image or because we’re seeking attention. Food choices are no longer just individual taste, they’ve become a code for being virtuous, hip, or knowledgable. Today, you really are what you eat. I would be afraid that a “diagnosis” would just tack “sick” on top of “childish” and “unsophisticated”.

  6. Claire Says:

    Well, I think there are lots of “conditions”, eg synaesthesia, which are not necessarily pathological, but which concepts do help to explain certain differences to those who don’t share them, and thereby foster understanding and undermine prejudice and criticism. For me, I feel quite strongly that there should be no responsibility without power. Whereas at present, picky eaters are held responsible (and therefore judged) for their food “choices”, when the crucial element of choice is in fact absent. So I don’t think calling it a “disorder” necessarily equates with “sick” or with needing to be “fixed”, and I do think it is important to acknowledge the distress caused for picky eaters who really would like to be less (or not at all) picky. And in fact, rather than “tacking sick on top of childish and unsophisticated”, acknowledging the condition as such replaces all three labels with something value-free, more like “different”.

    People with dyslexia, for instance, are not “sick”. And I think including pickiness as an eating disorder would broaden people’s ideas of what an eating disorder is, rather than them focussing so heavily on body image and attention-seeking, and psychological distress as causal factors.

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