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#1 Mon 01 Nov 10 11:50pm


Member since Mon 01 Nov 10

Fussy Eaters (Selective Eating Disorder)


I wanted to know what help there is out there, or what can be done in the food industry to help those with Selective Eating Disorder.

I am 27 - I haven't eaten one piece of fruit since I was 5 - infact when I was 5 I suffered a change in environment and found that food offered me something to control. I stopped eating everything apart from peanut butter on toast for 2 years. Since then other foods have been allowed into my diet, but texture, smell can be so important. For example - I tried to eat some grapes, 1 a day to see if I could try and eat one fruit! I was gagging the whole time over the texture. I don't eat onions, peppers, chillis, tomatoes, salad, fruit or most meats and fish - in fact my diet has been constant junk food or bland.

I recently started making Jamie's 30 minute meals - I love cooking and will even cook the meals I don't eat (yes without even tasting them) - my diet has not affected my health in the sense that I am lean, rarely ill and full of energy, however, a couple of years ago I did suffer from B12 deficiency and now take vitamins. I desperatly need to know if there is a way someone can create meals that are not bland, but could help fussy eaters eat better. What can someone do about being a fussy eater? Is there a way to appraoch the issues around the eating disorder to help people allow and introduce new foods (i.e. textures, smells).

My family have all been good cooks, and eat anything, I hsaw psychiatrists as a child who recommended my mother stop force feeding me and give me more of what I wanted. Often its caused by upset, abuse and problems within childhood. As a psychologist I also have learnt that eating disorders are often related to sexual issues, since the mouth plays some part in the unconscious and sex. Still - little is know and there appears to be little real help out there.  I am interested to know more about what specialists in food and in eating healthy and diet can offer to help.

Sorry this is a long message and I'm not sure if in correct area, but I have discovered the amount of fussy eaters in the UK alone is not small! There are many of us, and I admire what Jamie cooks and does to ask.


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#2 Tue 02 Nov 10 2:09am


Forum super champ
Occupation Chief cook and bottle washer
From Northern California
Member since Sat 10 Feb 07

Re: Fussy Eaters (Selective Eating Disorder)

I hope you are able to get some help as this is a very big issue for you.  I must say, though, that I don't buy into your Freudian explanation for not liking food.  How many sexual hangups could you have had at age 5?  Still, I hope you'll seek help from another doctor.  Best of luck.

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#3 Tue 02 Nov 10 3:44am

Miss GlutenFree

Occupation Admin Officer & Mum
From Queensland, Australia
Member since Sun 14 Mar 10

Re: Fussy Eaters (Selective Eating Disorder)

Wow, that is a fair list of foods that you don't like! How about you list things that you do like so we can make a few suggestions of recipe ideas? Also if there is a particular texture that you object to....

I don't like tomatoes but find that if I use a pasta sauce that is too tomatoey I add a teaspoon of sugar and some salt & pepper to balance out the flavour.

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#4 Tue 02 Nov 10 4:09am


Occupation Kitchen Manager/Drummer
From Eastern Ontario, Canada
Member since Thu 14 Oct 10

Re: Fussy Eaters (Selective Eating Disorder)

If it is just a question of getting nutrients into you, I suggest you try smoothies. The possibilities are endless and you can pretty much add whatever fruit, veg, nut products you like.  I have spinach almost everyday in my smoothie.  About 80% of the drink is fruit, so that makes up the predominant flavor.   A typical blender meal for me would have two or three servings of fruit, one serving of leafy greens, I usually add some ground flax seed for the omega 3's and fibre, toss some vanilla whey protein in there, then I add some skim milk, soy milk or coconut water, and that is one healthy, low fat meal.  Usually about 12 ounces or more. It fills me up for a few hours..I am pretty busy at work and have no time to sit and have a meal..

Last edited by Roch-Maurice (Tue 02 Nov 10 4:12am)

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#5 Tue 02 Nov 10 4:10am


Forum super champ
From Melbourne Australia
Member since Sun 12 Apr 09

Re: Fussy Eaters (Selective Eating Disorder)

Have a look at this thread Mytimusica and see if there are ideas you could try on yourself!
Good luck! smile

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#6 Tue 02 Nov 10 4:37am


Occupation Geek by trade
From Minnesota
Member since Tue 02 Nov 10

Re: Fussy Eaters (Selective Eating Disorder)

I understand some of what you are saying. I have food issues, at times they have been fairly serious.
I believe self-awareness is the key.
For several years I only ate a few things. Salmon, Greek olive hummus, California rolls, zucchini, eggplant and steel cut oats. Seasonings and condiments were OK.  The thought of most food made me nauseous. I couldn't eat over anyone's house or eat out.
I spent a lot of time thinking and I came to the realization that I need control of my food. The idea of food production issues and animal treatment and food shortages made everything unappetizing.
I'm now on a mostly vegetarian diet and pay close attention to where my food is coming from and how it's processed. Generally, no meat, no dairy, nothing fried. Those foods still really bother me most of the time. I can eat meat if it's from local farms or wild caught game. If I can't verify where it comes from my mind goes directly to a feed lot and sets off my gag reflex. Cows milk is for baby cows, and the rennet in cheese sets me on edge. Fried food, well, what can I say, it's fried.
If you look back into your training, one thing you may remember is that repeating negative patterns is non-productive. Try to find the actual issue (you don't like fruit and other foods). Identify the behaviours (refusal to try, gagging, deprivation). Find the patterns (long periods of deprivation, expected failure).  Then find a way to change.

Sticking with fruits here, I suggest trying new fruits. You already know you don't like grapes and have had bad experiences with them. Don't keep doing the same thing over and over. Try a starfruit, or a kumquat. Something you don't already have a negative association with. Change how things are prepared. Don't just cut up a pear, poach it and drizzle with sauce. Changing cooking methods change textures and smells.

Although I am not a doctor, I agree with the psychiatrist, but believe that was half of the message. With children, you don't force feed, that can set up a negative relationship with food. You provide one thing they like and offer others. When my kids were little we had dinner with all items in serving bowls. If they wanted to eat all the green beans, I wouldn't force them to eat anything else. However, they would see the family choosing and enjoying other foods at the same meal. All the food was there and they were able to serve themselves, they never had to ask for anything on the table. That gives a lot of control to a child.   

Also as far as the sexual issues. Unless you have them and can identify them, I wouldn't put too much thought into that idea. From what I have seen, when food and sexual issues are combined, you have a serious if not lethal combination. I am by no means belittling what you are experiencing, I just want you to be aware that for the majority of people with food issues, the two are not combined. It is completely normal to have one without the other.

Wow, I can ramble!
So, what I would suggest is to stop self-treating. You have recognized this as a problem, admitted that you are unable to change as of yet and looking for ideas to facilitate change. Find a therapist who specializes in eating disorders and make an appointment. You've already done the hard part now you just need to be guided toward the change you seek.

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#7 Tue 02 Nov 10 4:49am


Forum champ
Occupation teacher
From Darwin, Australia
Member since Wed 08 Sep 10

Re: Fussy Eaters (Selective Eating Disorder)

I do think this needs the help of trained specialists, rather than well-meaning strangers like us.  So I hope you are getting specialist help.

I have heard of childhood experiences affecting people's eating habits before, but have also heard that the problems can be surmounted with combined psychiatric and dietary help. 

How healthy you feel at the moment may depend on how old you are.  If you are younger than middle age, you are probably not feeling or showing the nutrient deficiencies and imbalances yet, but as you get older, your body is unlikely to cope so well.

Here's one more idea of an approach to take.

I used not to like olive oil, and it made me physically gag.  But then my ex-husband complained that the Italian food I cooked didn't taste right.  And I also decided that olive oil was one of the healthiest fats I could cook with, so I must learn to like it.  I started not by just following recipes with it in, but by only adding a small amount, along with the fat I usually cooked with (butter or sunflower oil).  Over time, I gradually increased the amount of olive oil I used, and eventually could cook only with it.  Now I like it in cooking and salad dressings.  I still don't like to dip a piece of bread in it and eat it; and I don't like mayonnaise made with it.  But I've learnt to like it and it's good for me.

Maybe you could do the same kind of thing.  Keep cooking what you've been cooking for yourself.  But gradually just add tiny bits, and then slightly larger bits, of the foods you don't like.  Don't try to force yourself to eat a plain grape, but chop a few grapes or other fruit up and add them to your yoghurt or a smoothie (as Roch-Maurice suggests).  Then, as you come to tolerate them, gradually increase the amount you add.  Add just a little minced meat, or tomato, to your pasta or rice or bread, and gradually increase that.  Etc.

As Miss GlutenFree says, it would be helpful if you posted a list of what ingredients you do like.

Last edited by cengland (Tue 02 Nov 10 4:49am)

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#8 Tue 02 Nov 10 11:41am


Member since Mon 01 Nov 10

Re: Fussy Eaters (Selective Eating Disorder)


Thank you all for getting back

JoyYamDaisy - that's a cool link you sent and nice meal too! I'll probably live on that for a month! ha

SonomaEddie - I'm not saying that its all due to sexual issue, I saw a Cognitive Therapist who explained that in my circumstances (I had been moved to Germany, bullied in the schools, isolated, parents divorced, and yes I had been sexually assaulted) was more likely connected with OCD - to stop eating foods that could cause something bad to happen. There are so many reasons why children and adults become fussy eaters - others have suggested that it can even be sensitive or indifferent taste buds.  Either way knowing the issue, there are no specialists that can actually help "cure" Selective Eating Disorder since its such a new psychology.

What I am hoping is that those of you who know food, will maybe know ways of approaching food to overcome textures and so on - last night I cooked Jamie's chicken pie with the smashed carrots, French peas and the fruit creme desert. My family loved it and I ate all of the main meal - with the desert I tried eating a raspberry and a blueberry - the discovery is that because its been so many years, and these fruits I have never eaten or tasted - its a shock to the mouth and taste buds - I had a seed stuck in my tooth, it tasted sour to me. Horrible but I tried.

Miss GlutenFree & others -  The foods I like are: Potatoes (any kind), chicken, pasta, creme, all dairy, duck, streaky bacon, I'll eat most traditional vedge (carrots, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, Sprouts) but they have to be super soft almost mushy. I'll only eat sausages if there are no bits in it, I'll even eat Butter Chicken curry if the sauce is smooth, Bread, mushrooms, garlic, crisps and chocolate  big_smile  I have issue with bits - texture - I will drink fruit drinks like orange juice (if there are no bits) I have discovered innocent smoothies (expensive) - they are smooth and no bits. Spice I have to go easy on since a small amount of spice (like a butter chicken curry) will blow my head off!

I'd love to be able to eat normally! I envy people who do - I'm addicted to cooking programs, watch people eating foods I don't eat and cook for my family as main house cook, since I love it even if I don't eat it - I really love food! Could eat all day - I think you are all so lucky to be able to enjoy whatever you want! Even if I try (a lot of fussy eaters won't even try) - I think its strange trying to eat something everyone else has had years to learn how to eat.

I was thinking however, last night that - maybe there is a way to approach this with someone's personality - like believing that the food and fruit is a cute creature that needs me to eat them? Kind of convince my mind that this is something different than just food. That way maybe I will start eating it and eventually the texture and taste will grow on me?

I really do appreciate all the feedback! Any food suggests? Especially if there are any ideas on how to make some meals on Jamie's book '30 minute meals' edible for me would be totally amazing (and a challenge!)   smile

Thank you

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#9 Wed 03 Nov 10 12:15am


Forum champ
Occupation Mother, Best Friend, home trained cook.
From Melbourne Australia
Member since Sat 22 Dec 07

Re: Fussy Eaters (Selective Eating Disorder)

I think you hit the nail on the head about convincing your mind Myti.  I don't want to take anything away from what you have experienced but I do become frustrated with the lables the medical profession puts on us when we are stuggling with an aspect of our life. I say this because I have been labled and these days tell them where to stick it.

Stress can have a huge affect on how we deal with things in our life, often leading to the desire to control something like food.  Although you probably think your eating is not in your control, I believe to the contrary, it is, it has become so much a part of something you control you have lost sight of how it was when you didn't have to think about it too hard.

I'm not a professional but I hope from me writing this you start viewing this, not as a disorder, but simply a habit of eating that your mind has created to cope with stress. A stress that has perhaps lessoned given your desire to branch out and try new foods. Even if you just try a bite of something new each day you are on the right track. Even though that seed tasted bitter, you tried it! Ask yourself what you liked about that food, even if it was just the texture.

I hope you stick around here and keep trying new things, Im sure you'll get there.

Last edited by Tara (Wed 03 Nov 10 12:20am)

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#10 Wed 03 Nov 10 12:23am


Occupation Chef
From Cheshire
Member since Mon 01 Nov 10

Re: Fussy Eaters (Selective Eating Disorder)

I have three letters for you man. N. L. and P.
i know a guy that could sort you out in no more than a session or 2. forget psychiatrists. talk to Craig34 on if he cant help you, he wont charge you big_smile

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