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Jul 6, 2010 07:58 AM

Interesting WSJ story about picky eating as a type of disorder

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  1. Interesting. A friend and colleague of mine has what I have called "juvenile" eating habits. I never invite her to a dinner party because of the menu restrictions (I have invited her and her husband separately and fixed a meal around the available choices). While she is nowhere near as restrictive as the woman in the article, she still has a limited range of foods compared to other people I know and hang with (admittedly adventurously chowish!) I confess to having had judgmental thoughts about her ("she just wants attention"), never openly expressed, but perhaps I need to consider that she has a disorder. What a horrid way to live!

    1 Reply
    1. re: nofunlatte

      Late in reading your remarks, but needed to say,I object to your saying "What a horrid way to live!" for individuals with Selective Eating Disorder. Except for the unsolicited concern or criticisms of others,such as yourself, most of these people are quite content with what they eat, and they would like to change, but mostly to keep down hurtful, ignorant remarks like yours. It is the JUDGMENTAL ASPECT, such as your remarks, that makes it "horrid." What people eat is their own, personal business. How would you feel if, for example, you really gagged on a certain food item that all your friends liked, and they told you that you lived a "horrid life" because you did not eat what they ate? Well, multiply that by many times for those with Selective Eating Disorder and the criticism they must endure from others. The food is going in their stomachs, not yours, so what is the problem for you who criticize? Yes, it might not be the usual way to eat, but eating is nothing but fueling the body in its basic sense, if they are fulfilling this need, then why is it an issue to other people? Leave them to their own choices of foods, albeit a short list, and keep your eyes on your own plate, and everyone will be fine. It has been shown over and over that most of these individuals are perfectly normally-functioning, happy people, the majority of whom have no particular health issues, or at least not from their limited food choices. They tend to carefully have their blood, etc. checked by their physicians and are declared healthy. So, why must they eat what YOU WANT THEM TO EAT, or else be judged as having "horrid lives.?

    2. I believe that a lot of teenage girls who claim to be vegetarian are really hiding an eating disorder.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Philly Ray

        How are you so certain that that is limited to "teenage girls"?

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Ok, then let's extend that to some adults who started when they were teen-agers.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            I have a coworker who's male, straight (just setting the scene here, no offense intended) , young, fit, handsome, immature for as smart as he is, and boy howdy does he have freaky eating habits that would probably put lifelong anorexics to shame. He's close to being vegan, and yet does protein powder to excess and caffeine and taurine (ox bile, go figure- that's your only carnivore guilty pleasure??). I don't see a lot of vegetable eating, maybe the beer he makes counts as a vegetable to him. I don't know- it's like he was a sickly kid and got over that and now he's a good-looking young man and gosh- who knows...

            But i have to say his beer is awesome.

          2. re: Philly Ray

            I don't think being vegetarian is a sign of an eating disorder. An old roommate of mine shopped around several doctors to get a diagnosis that she needs to be gluten/casein free(a very restrictive diet, of course there are plenty of things to eat but she didn't eat much at all because she "couldn't find anything she liked".).

            1. re: Fromageball

              Philly Ray didn't say that all vegetarians had an eating disorder, but that some people with eating disorders disguise it by calling themselves vegetarian.

              1. re: thinks too much

                Thanks for pointing that out, needed to be said.

            2. re: Philly Ray

              I agree! Now I am sure the majority of vegetarians or vegans choose that lifestyle for legitimate reasons. My cousin however decided to become "vegetarian" as a fish, eggs or dairy. Only she never really bothered to research what a vegetarian diet actually is (ex. she would scarf down tons of artificial crab without ever bothering to read the label on the package) and could never really articulate why she felt the need to eat this way. Maybe just because she was a silly teenager at the time. But it did give her an excuse to avoid eating in front of others. She weighed about 90 lbs soaking wet. She also lives with her mother who weighs upwards of 400 lbs and is disabled due to her weight. We all know the "vegetarian" thing is just a way to mask her issues with food and weight. I bet this is a lot more common than people think.

              1. re: Philly Ray

                This describes my friend perfectly--a hard-core vegan who's also a bulimac. And I've noticed that many of my friends who are picky eaters are also overweight.

              2. A friend and coworker has a limited palate (but certainly not to the extent as the article describes), but she is also a super-taster. Most vegetables taste bitter/acrid to her, and she is put off by textures of some foods. She will eat outside her comfort zone occasionally, but a 5-7 course tasting menu is a form of torture for her.

                1 Reply
                1. re: weezycom

                  I remember seeing a show - maybe MTV True Life - I'm a picky eater years ago about three people who were picky eaters - bland food, specific textures, no vegetables, etc. One girl had a boyfriend but they all talked about the secrecy of not letting people know all of their restrictions and how it was hard to meet people/have a relationship. These were all adults who had this same problem since they were children. They talked about an online support group and they did have a get together in real life at a restaurant where the orders were extremely picky and specific. One person was getting help introducing more foods into their diet because of the fear of not getting enough nutrition.

                  I just did an online search and found a casting site for a major cable network for these kinds of picky eaters that was casting in May and June of this year - must live near Los Angeles.

                2. hmm. Those are certainly extreme examples. My 14 year old son has Asperger's, and he's a supertaster; I've posted about this before on a thread about supertasters. He thrives on whole milk, peanut butter, varietal rice (smell and texture!), and endless junk food carbs plus fresh fruit smoothies.. He politely declines dishes that don't appeal to him, and lately he's been trying bites of new things. I'm so proud of him, especially in light of this article!

                  1. Supertaster is a new term for me.
                    Is that something diagnosed or tested for by a doctor?

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: dave_c

                      You can test yourself at home using a stick-on notebook paper reinforcement and food colouring. You can see your own taste buds in the mirror with a magnifying glass, and if in the hollow circle of the reinforcement you have more than a certain number, you classify as a supertaster.

                      1. re: stet

                        Do you have a link that describes this procedure?

                          1. re: stet

                            Fascinating, I didn't know you could test for it.

                            Still, I think there's a slight difference between this picky eating syndrome and supertasting, the one being more psychological/psychosomatic and the other being more physiological. I'm sure there's overlap, but I don't think they're totally synonymous.

                            1. re: tatamagouche

                              another tip that you may be a supertaster is that Sweet & Low (pink packet) tastes bitter to you, not sweet at all.

                              1. re: weezycom

                                Sensitivity to bitterness (artificial sweeteners) is only a sensitivity to bitterness, not a sensitivity to tastes overall. Actually, the number of tastebuds has very little to do with taste acuity. Far more important are the individual relays from each taste bud that go to the brain (how good is their signal?) and the taste processing center in the brain, the rostral ingula.

                                It's like cell phones. You can have a lot of them (like tastebuds), but if the signal is bad (low batteries) or if the tower is not working (taste center in the brain), it doesn't matter that there are lots of cell phones.

                                The whole "number of taste buds" thing is a myth, heavily promoted but inaccurate.

                              2. re: tatamagouche

                                I couldn't agree more, Tatamagouche.

                                1. re: tatamagouche

                                  I think that 'supertaster' status is going to bring on another whole big avalanche of food control issues. God helpl us all.

                          2. re: dave_c

                            Here is a link to a previous thread on supertasters. Note that many of the responses were from people who didn't bother to read the definition and just claimed to be supertasters because it sounds desirable.