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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Picky, Picky

The other night, Jake threw a fit when we tried to have him taste some squash (yes, the squash again).  We usually don't force him to try things because he's usually very good with trying things--and once he tries something, he usually likes it.  For some reason, that night we really wanted him to try it and he really didn't want to.  It could be worse.

I know that even though Jake doesn't eat things like sauces (plain pasta is one of his favorite things), cheese and potatoes (I swear he's the only kid in America who doesn't like cheese & potatoes), he's far from being a picky eater.  He loves virtually every fruit and many veggies.  He's a huge carnivore and really enjoys fish--tilapia, salmon, tuna, etc. 

Picky eating in kids is kind of expected and accepted.  They'll grow out of it, right?  Well, according to a very interesting Wall Street Journal article, No Age Limit on Picky Eating, there are more adult picky eaters than you may think.

Jeremy M. Lange for the Wall Street Journal

Heather Hill says her sons, Andrew, 3, center, and Nicholas, 2,
are less fussy than she is about the foods they eat.

The article talks about new studies that pretty much label picky eating as an eating disorder.  But it isn't as easy to label as things such as anorexia and bulimia.
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.

The article profiles some people who are adult picky eaters.  Most find any way to avoid social eating situations, work lunches, etc.  They don't eat meals with their kids for fear that their pickiness will rub off on them.  One 29 year-old woman claims that she's only eaten about 10 different foods since she was 3 years old.  A support website, PickyEatingAdults.com has about 1400 members.

As someone who eats pretty much anything, it's hard for me to imagine eating only a few things over and over.  But apparently, for many, it's a way of life.  A way of life that often comes with stress, embarrassment and anxiety.  Luckily for those people, more is being learned about their situation and there are ways for them to get help and support.

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