Everyone refrains from eating certain kinds of foods because they don’t like them, but that’s simply being human. Picky eating is so much more than not wanting to eat your vegetables, and is a serious health issue that is often times overlooked by most people including doctors.
The pickiness health disorder is often neglected, simply because it may not look as severe as other eating disorders. It’s not a disorder that commonly leads to death or abnormal weight loss or gain. Because it’s common to not like certain foods, there is also some ambiguity between who just has preferences as opposed to the actual disorder.
Being picky isn’t only due to personal likes and dislikes of specific foods. There are underlying neurological factors that correlate with the behavior and may exaggerate the senses leading to elevated sensitization. The household environment and parental eating patterns can also be involved in the development of the disorder.
It can stem from disorders like autism, and can be a symptom of many anxiety-driven disorders. Either way, it’s not something that should be brushed off and ignored as a personality trait, but should be taken seriously as it can lead to societal rejection, bullying, and other social problems.
It’s important for doctors to take the disorder seriously and diagnose it properly, preferably at an early age when the brain is more compliant. Once diagnosed, doctors and therapists can use forms of reinforcement learning to essentially rewire neural pathways to correct picky eating.
The pickiness health disorder, among others, deserves just as much attention and research as other eating disorders as it can also lead to serious health issues and bad habits. It can even help diagnose other mental disorders. It’s important that everyone becomes aware of this disorder to facilitate proper diagnoses and treatment in the future years to come.