You sit down to dinner with your extended family. You’re at a new spot in town, so you all take your time perusing the menu. Conversations are a buzz with what each person plans to order.
The server comes over, and you’re up first. You say, “I’d like the chicken tenders with rice, but please hold the sauce, and instead of broccoli can I substitute something else?”
Your sister, next to you, rolls her eyes in mocked annoyance. It’s the same old story. You’re the picky eater at a restaurant that boasts big flavors. Again.
Maybe you roll your eyes back, give a friendly jab or even say, “I like what I like,” with your own version of mocked annoyance. But inside, you might be wondering, why am I so picky?
Why Am I Such a Picky Eater?
Let’s start with this crucial question. If you’re a teenager, young person, or full-fledged adult, you probably wonder why your childhood pickiness persists. Maybe you just like what you like, and now that you’re an adult, you really know what you like.
But also: maybe you have an eating disorder.
Hear us out. Extreme pickiness, especially pickiness that lasts past early adolescence, can be the result of an eating disorder called Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID).
A lot of times, when we hear people talk about eating disorders, we assume those are reserved for people who are focused on weight. But eating disorders are simply that: disordered eating.
So a person with ARFID is motivated so much about what they look like. The disorder comes from not eating either enough food or enough variety of food to gain the appropriate calories and nutrition needed to sustain a healthy life.
What Does ARFID Look Like for the One Experiencing It?
On the surface, other people may only notice that you don’t like a food that they love. Maybe they pick up on the fact that your diet isn’t all that varied. But what’s going on beneath the surface for a person with ARFID?
When you consider taking a bit of something you’d rather not eat, you may think:
- That texture always grosses me out
- I don’t really feel like eating
- This might make me sick
- I’m worried I’ll choke on this if I try to eat it (1)
And with ARFID, you may not be able to overcome these negative thoughts. So you likely set the food down, push it around on your plate and eventually throw it away. And over the long haul, you will miss out on key caloric and nutritional needs.
This is why a person with ARFID must experience at least one of the following criteria in order to be clinically diagnosed:
- Extreme weight loss
- Lack of adequate growth
- Nutrition deficits
- Need for oral supplements
- Interference with social functioning (1)
Of course, the best thing you can do if you suspect ARFID is to talk with a professional who understands eating disorders and can help you get a proper assessment and treatment.
Give us a call today at 419-885-8800 or connect with us through our contact form, and we can help you get started.