14 answers

Is There a Disorder That Would Cause Extreme Dislike for Foods and Their Smells?

I have a 4 1/2 year old that use to be a wonderful eater up until the age of 3. For almost 2 years now he can't stand the smell or taste of foods. Even ones he use to like. I really think this goes beyond him being a picky eater. If he even smells food on someone elses plate he demands we move it out of the room. If he smells food on someones breath he will plug his nose and ask the person to get away from him with that smell. He will go weeks without eating and my pediatrician says the usual...he'll eat when he's hungry. When he does decide to eat he will want the same thing for every meal for a few weeks. The only foods he will eat when he's starving are...Sausage links, Salami, Hot Dogs...Nothing else in the meat catagory. He will eat fries and sometimes a piece of cheese or a plain piece of bread..He will drink milk ,apple juice, will drink sunny D, but not real orange juice. He hates candy, ice cream, cookies...not that I would push that on him. I'm just trying to paint a picture...I've tried to bring him shopping and have him pick out foods he would like to have, I've tried to have him prepare meals trying to make food fun. Nothing works and I'm going out of my mind...He is not underweight by any means. He was 10 1/2lbs at birth and 3 weeks early. He is 55lbs now.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I intentionally left out sensory disorder just to see if anyone else came up with this. Actually I'm pretty positive that he does have sensory issues since his older brother 5 1/2 has a bit of this mixed with other issues, but has grown out of most of it. My picky eater has sensitivity to many things..besides food smells or tastes...He is also bothered by colors,sounds, heights, textures of clothing or blankets. He can be overly rough and tough in play or overly sensitive to touch. I appreciate all the feedback ...all I can say...It's tough to wait it out..sometimes you just feel so alone.

Featured Answers

So frustrating, isn't it? My 5yo has always had these kind of issues, the holding his nose it more recent but I think it has more to do with learning to do it. He eats the same few things...I was so excited when he started eating chicken nuggets and fish sticks--finally a protein! lol
But he's also always been a big kid and has shown other over-sensitivities, not quite what I think needs a sensory processing disorder diagnosis but he's on that end of the spectrum. The biggies for him are transitions (like from school) and sleep (still prefers to sleep next to someone), oh and loud noises and fear of heights, too. He was a very refluxy baby, too.
He takes his "no thank you bites" at school but it's hard for him every time, he's into the rewards systems though.
My younger son is the opposite in each of these ways so I know it's just his personality.
Keep it all as calm as possible, power struggles only make it worse (I have a hard time convincing my husband of this!).

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

If he's generally healthy and the pediatrician isn't concerned, I would try not to worry too much about it. I read this article a couple years back that you might find interesting - seems to be that some kids just go through this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/10/dining/10pick.html

Hang in there - this too shall pass!

2 moms found this helpful

Another possibility would be food allergies or sensitivities. My 7YO daughter has been a picky eater always. We have found out in the last year that she has digestive/gastro problems related to many foods. Turns out she didn't want to eat what upsets her stomach. Makes sense but she wasn't mature enough to communicate it to us until recently.

The result was she would originally like something and then suddenly be turned off but that was it took a few times eating it to make the association. Eventually she became afraid to try anything new.

2 moms found this helpful

So frustrating, isn't it? My 5yo has always had these kind of issues, the holding his nose it more recent but I think it has more to do with learning to do it. He eats the same few things...I was so excited when he started eating chicken nuggets and fish sticks--finally a protein! lol
But he's also always been a big kid and has shown other over-sensitivities, not quite what I think needs a sensory processing disorder diagnosis but he's on that end of the spectrum. The biggies for him are transitions (like from school) and sleep (still prefers to sleep next to someone), oh and loud noises and fear of heights, too. He was a very refluxy baby, too.
He takes his "no thank you bites" at school but it's hard for him every time, he's into the rewards systems though.
My younger son is the opposite in each of these ways so I know it's just his personality.
Keep it all as calm as possible, power struggles only make it worse (I have a hard time convincing my husband of this!).

2 moms found this helpful

I have two daughter's are they are both somewhat of picky eaters. They love hot dogs, pancakes, chicken nuggets, fries, apples, jelly sandwiches,etc. They won't eat things like pizza or spaghetti, mac and cheese, etc.

If your son is not under weight or in any kind of life threatening danger then I say leave him be. Maybe he likes the attention he receives for not eating. You will know if this turns into something threatening or not. When he's ready to eat let him eat the thing's he likes. My girls seem to really enjoy those tubes of yougurt. I think they are called Gogurts. I put them in the freezer for an extra treat. Microwave popcorn is also a fan of theirs.

Hang in there. I am sure this is a phase and before you know it you might be wishing he didn't eat so much.

2 moms found this helpful

I know a neighbor who had a heightened sense of smell and it causes her to not like many foods because she can smell them too strongly. Have you ever taken him to have his senses checked? It could be as simple (?) as that? I wouldn't push him too hard and offer what foods he likes along with maybe one new food on his plate (and have it be the same food for a couple of weeks so he gets used to the smell).
I also know that not making a big deal out of it and just letting him eat (although tough for you!) is also helpful as he might just feel pressure to try it and want to be stubborn!
I would go with your "gut" that is saying its not normal and have him tested for sensory issues or sensory processing issues just to rule them out!

1 mom found this helpful

You could check into sensory integration disorder. You didn't say anything about his other mannerisms but this could be something to look into and check on the other symptoms.

1 mom found this helpful

The only one thing I think it could possibly be, in a small part, is maybe he has a sensory processing disorder. This mostly describes sensitivity to textures, but that could also make him more aware of smells. My daughter was just tested for this and this is the only part of the SPD that she does not have as much of , but I do know that she simply sees something and will decide she doesn't like it because of the color or because it's "hot"(when its not) etc, and sometimes she'll just say her favorite food is yucky as soon as she sees it or hears what it is. Part of it is also her age (3), but before we got her tested for a sensory processing disorder, we just thought she was a handful (major), but now we've learned things that can help her cope better. Either way, good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

It can also be he is low in zinc. If you buy some liquid zink and he likes it, it means he needs it. I buy mine from www.kirkmanlabs.com We like the flavored ones. When you are lovw in zinc food can tasste rotten, even nice things like fruit.
Regards,

W.

1 mom found this helpful

My nephew has been in Occupational Therapy for texture issues and other things. He had aspirating problems as a baby that may have contributed, but he rarely eats enough. One thing that he really likes and *will eat* are those Ensure drinks. They have a lot of nutrition and calories.

Do try to get into a specialist to have him assessed. At least find a pediatrician who will take you seriously. Your son's behavior is not normal.

1 mom found this helpful

Last year, I met a lady at the playground and we would talk daily while our children played. I don't remember details, but I know her son was going to Cook Children's Hospital either weekly or monthly for therapy. He seemed to have ADHD but she said it was called ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). He seemed to be a pretty smart kid, happy, very very active and almost hyper. He ran nonstop while at the playground, and lean. I really don't know anything about ODD but she did mention a huge issue related to it was that he simply would not eat. Except grapes----like everyday. (Really, almost never ate---days would pass without a meal, and then only very specific things like hot dogs). My son is 3 and we sometimes have big issues over food, and it can get on my very last nerve, but it's just a normal preschool fight. But if you're concerned it's more than that, I'd look up ODD and see if anything sounds like it pertains to your situation. If so, consult a doctor because there is treatment. But that's all I know....I haven't seen that mom around since winter began, or I'd ask her for you. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm not sure if there is a disorder. However, my nephew was/is (what I would call) more than a picky eater. He used to go days without eating, and when he did, the only thing he would eat is chicken nuggets or crackers. He is five now, and is still not the best eater. The doctor always said he was fine, too, because he was not underweight. Once, out of complete frustration, my sister and her husband put him in his high chair and told him he wasn't getting down until he ate one bite of an apple. What did my nephew do? Took a nap in his high chair! They eventually had to let him down. All I can say is that my nephew is slowly getting over it. I hope you find some answers because I can understand how frustrating this must be.

1 mom found this helpful

We have been trying to figure out ourselves if there is a disorder for strong aversions to foods and smells. We also have a 4 1/2 year old son, but our has had food problems since birth relating to reflux. Around 3 he was fine for awhile and then around 4 started vomiting when he didn't like the smell of something, tasted a food he didn't like or just because he saw something he didn't like. He actually just did it today and it's quite frustrating. I think it's realted to sensory processing issues. We've tried to get him occupational therapy but insurance and the school system are trying to fight us on it. We just don't know what to do either.

Our son is only 34 pounds at 4 1/2, though, and the shortest boy in his preschool class. The only child shorter than him is a little girl. I worry that his food aversions from birth has caused his growth to be delayed and wonder if he'll ever catch up or always be one of the smallest in his class.

Anyway, if your son is 55 pounds at 4 1/2, it sounds like he is very healthy and managing just fine with whatever it is he is eating. We used to try and make our son sit until he would eat, but all that did was cause him to vomit. The last thing we wanted! Now, we just give him options and let him choose what he wants to eat. He now eats more than he used to but not nearly enough my eyes.

1 mom found this helpful

Remember young children have very sensitive senses.. Smells are way stronger than ours and tastes are way more active for them. Black pepper or onions can taste like Jalapenos to a young child. Certain Beans, can taste bitter and have a very strong odor to young children.

He could be going through a bit of a control phose time right now also..

We had a young neighbor who went through this exact phase at about this age.. She only liked highly processed salty meats and grapes.

Of course at daycare she ate what they put in front of her.

Some people may suggest he has a sensory problem and it may be, but I think as moms we think being able to feed our children "healthy foods" makes us the best moms. He really will grow out of this.

Let him know it is rude to make ugly comments about food, other peoples breath and that from now on, he will eat what is given to him or there will not be anything for him to eat.. Give him extremely small portions of everything and if he wants more of something have him "may I please have more"

Help him be a "Brave Taster". Start a chart. For every 5 new things he will try... This means, no ugly faces, no ugly comment, no spit outs or gagging, he can put a sticker on the chart and he can win a "prize".. This should be something small.. Once he reaches 25 or whatever number you think is fair, you can let him pick the dinner you will serve the next day or an activity he would like to do.

In our house, I make one meal. If you do not want that, you do not have to eat it, you do have to sit at the table. You are allowed to have a bowl of unsweetened cereal, but nothing else for that meal. Try to also include your child in some of the choices.. but continue to cook like you always have. I PROMISE this will pass.

Our children will not starve.

1 mom found this helpful

Get or check out the book, "How to Get Your Kid to Eat (But Not Too Much)" from you library!

It sounds like he's on the extreme on of the picky eater spectrum, but my guess is that it's just that -- it's very normal for his age, and there are reasons why 3-5 year olds are so picky. Almost every parent stresses out about it to some degree.

I was in a very similar situation with my daughter, who I felt had something wrong with her. Her growth is not up to speed either, so health precessional were concerned with me. Without getting into the details of her problems, a friend/teacher handed me this book not too long ago and OH HOW I WISH I'd read it sooner! It helped me resolve so many of our problems. I realize now that I was getting bad advice from well-meaning dieticians, whose expertise is in nutrition, not child development. We created a lot of bad habits around our concerns, and fixing those solved most of it. Even if you are dealing with a bonafide "disorder" (we are, to some degree), you will want to read this book for guidance through the process.

Good luck!

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