On adult picky eaters

The Wall Street Journal looks at adult picky eaters — adults who won’t eat anything but a very small list of foods.

Unlike people with anorexia or bulimia, picky eaters don’t seem to make food choices based on calorie content. They aren’t necessarily skinny or obsessed with looking a certain way. Researchers don’t know yet what drives the behavior, but they say textures and smell can account for a picky eater’s limited diet. Some will only eat foods with one consistent texture or one taste, leading some medical experts to speculate that picky eaters have some obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Doctors worry that over the long term such eating habits could lead to nutritional deficiencies linked to health concerns, including bone and heart problems.
Picky eaters tend to gravitate to certain foods, including blander products that are often white or pale colored, like plain pasta or cheese pizza. For reasons that aren’t clear, almost all adult picky eaters like French fries and often chicken fingers, health experts say.

It’s serious enough to be considered an eating disorder, and selective eating may be recognized as a specific eating disorder in the next DSM (as opposed to “not otherwise specified”). I know more than one picky eater, and it’s profoundly limiting in the social arena — consider how many social activities revolve around a meal.

Many children are picky eaters, but, as Jackson Kuhl notes on the food blog Crispy on the Outside, they tend to grow out of it at age eight or so, like his son did.

We all have likes and dislikes; I don’t care how much of a delicacy they are in Cambodia — I ain’t eating a tarantula. Still, experience with my son taught me that, as the article suggests, picky eating is a neurosis. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in both cases, the appetites of my guy and the pediatrician’s son expanded at the same age when kids demonstrate greater self-awareness and personal responsibility. Becoming more confident, they realize they have some control of their environment and new foods are no longer as strange or anxiety-inducing. The stakes aren’t as high as they once believed. They recognize a meal is a finite experience and that if there’s some broccoli on the plate, they can just eat and be done with it because dinner will soon be over.

Via The Daily Dish.