Tuesday, 3 February 2015

It is a real eating disorder

I think the thing that annoys me most about my issues with food is the fact that people don't think that it's a 'real' problem. People seem to think I am just being fussy and that being a picky eater couldn't possibly be any sort of illness.
Truth be told, I have an eating disorder. It is newly recognised, and much more so in America than here in the UK but it is a real disorder. The medical term being used now is Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), I don't personally like the term. I don't feel that I avoid food as such and I don't restrict my intake of food either, I am just limited in the foods I like. To me that definition seems like its a decision to avoid foods and that's not the case at all.
I prefer the term Selective Eating Disorder (SED), although many people like me don't like the use of the word 'selective' as it's certainly not something we choose, I personally feel that it fits me better than ARFID because I honestly don't feel like I avoid food. Although anyone who has ever been out to eat with me would likely tell you that I do in fact avoid certain foods. I prefer to think of myself as selective about the foods I eat, all be it not through choice on my part. This article is great at explaining what SED is http://www.livescience.com/10301-adult-picky-eaters-recognized-disorder.html and it talks a little about the studies that are being done in to the disorder, mostly at Duke university. It also talks a little about the super tasters theory that I mentioned earlier.
Over here in the UK it is harder to get a diagnosis, although research is being done on the subject. I have participated in some research recently and I know that the researchers are determined to get SED or ARFID recognised better over here. Just now, if you can get a doctor to believe you have an eating disorder at all, you are likely to be diagnosed with what they call 'Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified' or EDNOS. This article, also from live science explains what EDNOS is and why being diagnosed with one is not always a good thing: http://www.livescience.com/6501-eating-disorders-untreated-experts-debate-definitions.html 
Being honest, I don't know how important a diagnosis is to me. I know I have a problem with food and in a way I don't mind if other people don't understand that. I would however like the medical community to understand a little better, there is simply no use in telling me I need to go on a diet to lose weight, it simply cant happen. I don't feel like I need a name for it or anything, it's not like I need a name to validate it to me, but I think the medical profession does. They cant take it seriously if it's not a real thing and if it doesn't have a name then its not a real thing to them.
What I do know is that the day I found out that Selective Eating Disorder was actually a real thing changed my life. I had no idea that there was a name for my issues, and I had no idea that there were others like me, some a lot worse. I will save the story of that day for another post, but believe me I have come such a long way since that day.


  1. What kinds of foods CAN you eat? Are they different for different people with SED?

  2. Although everyone with SED will have different foods they can and cant eat, the general theme seems to be a preference for plain, often bland foods. One of the classic signs of SED is the restriction of entire food groups - usually this includes fruits and vegetables for most of us. Personally there are a few vegetables I can eat, but I don't think I have ever eaten a fruit in my life.

    My main foods I like are chicken, pork, pasta (only with other things I like in it of course), cheese, potatoes and I will eat beef occasionally.