The latest eating disorder – Picky Eating

Selective Eating Disorder is an eating disorder that prevents the consumption of certain foods. You might think of this as “picky eating”. Not so fast. Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is now a condition that describes adults who limit their eating. Medical professionals say that sufferers of ARFID have an inability to eat certain foods based on texture or aroma.

Specific food avoidances could be caused by food phobias that cause anxiety when a person is presented with new or feared foods. Most eating disorders are related to a fear of gaining weight. Those who suffer from ARFID do not have this fear, but the psychological symptoms and anxiety created is similar.

To further confuse things – children who experience this type of picky eating (as a phase in their child development), is referred to as food neophobia. Treatment for children is a bit different. They typically benefit from a four stage in-home treatment program based on the principles of systematic desensitization.  In simple terms the treatment is to record, beware, relax and review. For adults the treatment usually involves cognitive behavioral therapy.

What are the other types of eating disorders?

  • Anorexia Nervosa – Self-starvation, rapid weight loss, and a distorted body image.
  • Bulimia Nervosa, – Compulsive eating followed by purging. This does not have to be throwing up. Purging can also be done by abusing laxatives.
  • ENDOS Types (eating disorder not otherwise specified)Binge Eating – Characterized by frequent periods of compulsive, or excessive eating. There is no purging involved.
  • Orthorexia – An obsession with food quality rather than quantity. A thin body is not the goal here, it’s a drive for personal purity.
  • Night Eating Syndrome – An individual wakes up during the night and is unable to go back to sleep without eating food. This can happen several times, during the night.
  • Pica – Compulsion to eat non-food items. It can include things like paper, cigarettes butts, and even sharp objects.
  • Bigorexia – Compulsive work outs to increase muscle size.
  • Body Dysmorphic – Seeing something different in the mirror, than those around you.

How to Spot an Eating Disorder (the noticeable signs)

  • Secretive Behavior, like hiding food or never eating around other people
  • A sudden drop in weight
  • Only eating a few foods and eating them in small amounts
  • Leaving the table immediately after meal
  • Exercising Excessively
  • Skipping meals, usually including an excuse like “I already ate”
  • Use of laxative, diet pill and diuretics
  • You might also notice things, bad breath, thinning hair, watery eyes and or swelling in the cheeks.

Pro-Ana Counter-Culture

In the late 1990’s a movement called pro-ana or sometimes just “ana” started. It stands for pro-anorexia. There is also one called pro-mia for pro-bulimia. The advocates say that being super thin is not a disease, it is a lifestyle choice. Similarly, the pro-mia members feel that vomiting is not a disease, just a weight controlling activity. These sub-culture movements can easily be seen on websites like Pinterest and Tumbler. Featured, are photos of crazy thin people called “thinspiration”. Tips are shared on things like “how to deal with hunger pains” or “how to vomit discreetly”. It is a place to find support. One tag line is “I love you to the bones”.

Eating Disorder
National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) has many tools on their website.

Popular Culture

Eating disorders are common in certain professions like modeling, gymnastics and dancing. There many celebrities that have battled eating disorders including:
Princess Diana
Paula Abdul
Elton John
Billy Bob Thornton
Joan Rivers
Jane Fonda
Lady Gaga
and so many more ……


I was surprised to learn that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. In fact, it is estimated that 8 to 10 million Americans have an eating disorder. The problem is that many times an eating disorder can be hidden. You can’t just look at the weight of a person, to diagnose the problem. In general, an eating disorder is characterized by abnormal eating patters. In other words, eating is for psychological instead of physical needs.
Our 800RecoveryHub site offers free and confidential help

Promising News

People who seek help for an eating disorder can recover and go on to live a healthy normal life. Early diagnosis and intervention provide for a better chance at recovery. Treatment is normally in the form of counseling coupled with medical attention. If you are your loved one needs help, please find the courage to make a change.

The disease affects men too!. However, The U.S. Office on Women’s Health has more about the illness at women’s

9 thoughts on “The latest eating disorder – Picky Eating

    1. I first learned about it by reading a blog post:
      It seems (to me) similar to Orthorexia – which an obsession of eating only “pure” and healthy foods. I have seen people who go on special diets get this. For example – Paleo, Raw or Gluten Free. It changes from a lifestyle choice to an immense fear of taking even one bite of food that might not “pure”. I guess it like most things – enjoy in moderation.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I have never heard of the Pro-Ana counter-culture. This is scary that there is a group of people encouraging someone with an eating disorder to continue. I can say from personal experience Bulimia is not a choice. I felt so out of control but I couldn’t find help so I kept hiding it. It disturbs me that things like this are allowed online. I’m all about freedom of speech, but this goes too far. WOW! Thanks for writing this post. Very informative and well-written.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes – in my opinion, girls have much more pressure to be judged by looks. Men who are 20 pounds overweight – just need to drop a few pounds. A woman would be labeled chubby. Men who have wrinkles are called mature, a woman looks old. A man with grey hair looks distinguished, a woman with gray hair looks like a witch. But those standards are changing, and men are starting to take more interest in their looks.


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