Selective eating disorder is a unique eating disorder which prevents an individual from consuming certain types of foods. As per the British Journal of Psychology, selective eating disorder is not a well-studied phenomenon. The condition is characterized by unwillingness to try out new types of foods and restricting the intake of foods to a limited range of foods. While this condition is frequently observed in younger children, in rare cases the condition may persist through adulthood.
Currently there is no specific criteria for classification of the condition and is not listed in the manual of mental disorders. This condition is often linked with anxiety and internal conflict within the individual.
Selective Eating Disorder Symptoms
The most unique feature of selective eating disorder is the inability of eat certain new types of food, especially due to difference in aroma and texture. An individual with this disorder tends to rate foods that are commonly consumed as “safe foods” and avoids all the other types of foods.
- Some individuals may exclude entire food groups like fruits or vegetables from the diet.
- Certain individuals would refuse to consume foods based on their color or texture.
- Other persons may refuse food based on its texture e.g. would refuse food that is crunchy or hard to chew.
As per the Institute of Child Health, UK, the condition can be traced back to a history of difficulty of feeding during early life or problems associated with weaning. As per estimates the condition is prevalent in about 20% of children below the age of five years and may persist in one third of all children up to the age of eight years. However, the prevalence of selective eating drops significantly as the age advances. Persistence of the disorder into early adulthood can result in issues like developmental delay, malnutrition, restricted growth and a host of other health concerns.
How To Overcome Selective Eating Disorder?
There are certain types of individuals that are more prone to develop this condition,
- Individuals with autistic disorders or other special needs adolescents are likely to have sensory integration dysfunction, which can result in the development of the condition.
- In certain cases selective eating disorder may also be linked with extra sensitive taste buds.
- Individuals with obsessive compulsive disorder or individuals suffering from other psychological disorders like anorexia nervosa are also prone to develop this condition.
- Individuals with autoimmune disorders like coeliac disease may often refuse to try out new foods and may manifest in the form of selective eating disorder.
The treatment of the condition depends upon cognitive behavioral therapy. In most cases the condition is associated with a past experience and cognitive therapy can be used to help the individual get over the past experience.
In other cases, exposure can work as a good alternative. Beginning with mild to moderate exposure of a new food can help the individual accept new foods or food types into his/her diet.
While these treatment therapies may work, considerable amount of research is required on the subject, to be able to treat and cure the condition efficiently.