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Selective Eating Disorder

Has anyone heard of "selective eating disorder"? My 7 year old son has always been a picky eater. What is different about him, though, is that he's not a typical picky eater. I have read book after book and read many articles online about picky eating. They are comical for me to read because he is so beyond picky eating. His doctor thinks I over react. One day I decided, instead of looking up "picky eater", I searched for "childhood eating disorder". BINGO. I found a disorder called Selective Eating Disorder.

Let me discribe my son's eating habits. I have made a list of things he will eat and there are only about 15 items on that list. Nothing of nutrition. He has NEVER eaten a vegetable and the sight of one on his plate makes him vomit. We have tried "when he's hungry he'll eat" theory. A symptom of this disorder is that they will allow themselve to be hungry and can go days with hardly and food. They see food as discusting. When I asked my son about this he told me that most food looks very gross to him. Absolutly nothing has gotten him to eat healthy food. I could go on and on about his symptoms.

Does anyone else out there have a child like this? I'm so frustrated with people telling me all of the remedies for a picky eater. They don't work with him. We really pracice positive reinforcement to reduce his anxiety about food but it doesn't help him eat healthier.

He is normal weight and overall healthy. He doesn't eat healthy food. The small amount he does eat is very high carb food. Only one kind of friut, no veggies at all. No meat. He's afraid to try new food. If he does, he usually throws up. He says he feels different than other kids because of the way he eats and that he doesn't like being like this. I want to help him so much but I don't know where to find help for him. Any help would appreciated.

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I am amazed at how may responses I have gotten to this, both on this page and private messages. What is frustrating is that very little is known about this. Currently my son is 9 1/2 . We "fired" our previous Pediatrician and found one willing to really listen and find us help. He has been going to an Occupational therapist for about 6 months now. It is really refreshing to have him work with someone who truly sees this problem and isn't out to judge ME. When asked if the therapy is working, yes, but it is extremely small steps forward and sometimes big steps back. I worry about him daily. He is starting to gain a significant amount of weight. This is really bringing his self esteem down. The most frustrating thing is, right now, there isn't to much I can do to control the weight. He's already on a very limited diet, there isn't much to eliminate. We have to monitor the amount of food he eats, so he doesn't over eat the foods he does like. My goal is for him to be able to eat 1 vegetable and unprocessed chicken. N. D. thank you for your post. I really understand the dangers of this disorder. We are doing everything we possibly know to do to keep our child as healthy as we can. I wish there was a better understanding with Dr's. To all the parents who have kids with this problem. Listen to your gutt, and don't let other's judgements of you make you ignore the problem. You will know if your child is more than "just a picky eater". Find a new Dr. if they don't listen. Don't give up, because trust me, the kids don't like being this way any more than you do. My son would give almost anything to be "normal".

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I recommend having him tested for celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease or allergy to gluten which is a protein found in wheat, barley, spelt, and rye. He may not want to eat because certain foods actually make him physicially sick. You can find some info at www.celiac.org.

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My grandson is just like this...my daughter says 100%. She would be willing to communicate with you by email if you like. She lives in upstate New York and my grandson is 7 years old. Let me know if you would like to hear from her. I am L. at ____@____.com

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Hi N.-
Did you also come across something called Sensory Integration Disorder in your research? Or Sensory Processing Disorder? Same thing, different names. I am a pediatric occupational therapist and have worked with many children who are very picky eaters and their diet is similar to what you have mentioned: mostly carbs, avoid veggies and fruits. Different textures, smells, or tastes make them gag and, like your son, just the sight of them can trigger this sometimes. Most of these kids also have other issues as well: sensitive to different kinds of touch, smells, sounds, movement (either crave it and move around a lot, or get car sick easily), visual, etc.
You could make an appointment with a pediatric occupational therapist to have him evaluated. Ask your doctor for a prescription for an eval, as some places require one, and he'll need a prescription to get treated. If you are interested, I can give you the names of places in your area of town that have OT's. You can also take a look at "Just Take a Bite"--I forgot the authors names, but Amazon carries it.
Good luck! I know this can be terribly frustrating but having a name and reason to his behavior can be comforting--and, of course, knowing that there is a treatment!


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Former anorexic myself, I started in high school, selectively choosing what I would eat, then became obsessive, eating disorders are not about weight they are about control, nothing in your life is controllable except what goes into your mouth. It may not be about fun ways to introduce foods, as much as it is a counselor to get to the root of his eating habits.

Good Luck,

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I'm not an expert on this disorder, but I have six children and they've all had different "quirks" about eating at different times. My 8 year old boy who had seldom seen a vegetable pass his lips since he began feeding himself, and has a thing against cheese, surprised me the other day by asking for the "cheese with holes" on a sandwich and lettuce too. Once we bribed him with the thought "If you want to be an olympic pole vaulter you need to eat your vegetables. It worked for one piece of lettuce and no more. Alas!
We've always just tried to make the eating thing a "no big deal" area of our lives. I provide healthy meals that vary (half of the kids put their nose up at the enchiladas last night) but I request a taste since I went through the trouble making it. Then it can sit on the plate while we have polite conversation around the dinner table...we sit down together.

I put it on the plate...they may or may not eat it but,they haven't starved...junk food from outside sources just isn't around much...they can eat PJ sandwiches or cereal later, but not right after an uneaten meal. As they get older they're trying more things...especially if they see us enjoying the food.
Idea#1 Plant a garden together
#2 Cook & serve the meal together
#3 Assure your child that just because they feel a certain way about a food now doesn't mean they'll always feel that way
#4 Coach your child on how to act when encountering that food when with another person. (I've smiled while swallowing something with mayo on it many a time. GAG!)Sometimes they'll try something for someone else that they won't for us.
#5 Keep putting just a tiny amount of whatever you are eating on the plate...one day they'll try...maybe.

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I don't have any issues like this but you may want to look into the Juice Plus vitamins for kids. If he will take them at least he will be getting the nurtrients he needs (fruits & veggies) until you can find him help.

Best wishes!!

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While I am not familiar with what you describe, it sounds like you should strongly consider talking with a psychiatrist who deals with childhood eating disorders. That would honestly be my next step if we were dealing with this. Particularly since he is saying he feels different from the other kids and doesn't like it. Either talk as a family or individually; both are usually beneficial. Hopefully you can find someone and you can help your son. Best wishes!

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I may be off base about this but I have heard of a case where a child reacted that way about certain foods and it turned out the foods the child was avoiding were ones the child could not break down because of an enzyme their body did not make. It turned out the child just shunned the foods that caused the reaction and the parents and doctor were unaware of the condition for many years. Perhaps there is more going on that just a picky eater or even an eating disorder. I would look into it more, even if you have to seek the opinion of a different doctor.

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I am BIG on nutrition, so I did a quick web search. I googled strong gag reflex just to see what I would find. I wanted to see something like a certain candy or losenge that would calm the reflex OR make your son LESS sensitive to different textures in his mouth. (I too have a beyond picky eater). My son has a texture issue. So, what I found w/ the gag reflex search was hypnotherapy!!! Listing after listing was the same. It is definitly something to try. One, it's not exactly 'therapy' so your son's esteem won't be harmed. And it's not a drug where side effects could harm him. Even if you find a true diagnosis of the eating disorder, I think the hypnotherapy would help. The only experience I have w/ that is my mom. She had it done to quit smoking 20 yrs ago. It's the only thing that made her quit. I applaud you for researching your son's symptoms and supporting him. You sound like a wonderful mother. I would do anything it takes to get him to eat healthy. Even if it takes making popsicles out of whatever juice he likes w/ a (broken) capsule of spirulina. That is a blue algae that humans could live on even if no food existed. Your local health store could help you. Like there is strawberry protein powder you could mix as a shake...or freeze into a popsicle. I think that cold stuff is easier for that 'gag' reflex. Good luck!

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Hi N. -

If he is healthy and at a normal weight, why not view this differently. He says he feels different and he clearly acts differently re foods - actually getting sick.

There are two ideas that I can think of - have you ever heard of eating for your blood type? There is a book out on this. I read it and found that all the foods I am highly allergic to, are those that are not good at all for my body, re blood type - interesting!!! This is based on over 25 years of research, which the book talks about in full detail. I think it would be worth looking into for your son.

Another idea - have you read up on Indigo and Crystal children? I would google this and be ready to have an open mind when you are reading about these kids. Your son seems to fit what I have read about some of these children. Although some eat only low-sugar stuff, there are some that don't eat much at all and want what your son wants - those carbs.

If he is throwing up at sight, I would consider that his body just beats to a different drum and he seems to understand this so maybe everyone else needs to support him in that - as long as he is of normal weight. We are seeing more and more of this happening in society - many are beating to a different drum and rather than fitting into categorizing in a negative way, as our Western World can do, people are beginning to accept and appreciate the differences - realizing there is nothing "wrong".

Good luck and blessings to your son!

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I recommend having him tested for celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease or allergy to gluten which is a protein found in wheat, barley, spelt, and rye. He may not want to eat because certain foods actually make him physicially sick. You can find some info at www.celiac.org.

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My child is 12 and has an eating disorder which she developed over the summer. It is very important to get help from someone trained in eating disorders. It is also important to get help as soon as possible so the pattern can be broken. This can affect many aspects of his growth and physical health. I would try to find a dietician and psychologist that specializes in eating disorders. Dr Susan Mendgen is a specialist in San Antonio and can refer you to someone in your area possibly. All counselors say they treat eating disorders, but my daughter was being seen by a counselor and was not getting any better until she saw someone who really knew what they were doing. It is kind of like you can go to a general practitioner to deliver your baby and that may be okay if it is a very uncomplicated case, but most people opt for an obstetrician. I wish you the best and hope you will follow up. You are not over-reacting.

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Hi N.,

I would have to agree with some of the other responses to find a doctor who specializes in eating disorders. He may grow out of it as some people have, but it never hurts to follow through medically. I know you have to be worried about your son, and it would help you to feel better to find a doctor who will take you seriously and take measures to find a solution to the problem.

My youngest did not want to eat solids, and after I weaned him at a year old, he stopped growing and I had great difficulty getting him to eat food. Sometimes he would throw up, and I thought he might have a sensitive gag reflex, but I finally figured out that he might have reflux. After consulting with his doctor, she agreed that it could be reflux and put him on medicine. Meanwhile, we did blood tests and saw a specialist to make sure it wasn't another type of issue. After being on the reflux medicine for a month, his eating improved, and after 4 months, he finally started to grow. In short, follow your instincts and find a doctor who will do everything possible to help.

Good luck!

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My son was that way from the time he was on solid food. He would gag if you gave him anything new to try. If it wasn
't a chicken nugget or a french fry he was having no part in it. I gave him liquid vitimins and hoped for the best. He says now he did not like the way it felt in his mouth. He has gotten better over time. If it's something he likes he takes big bites now. if it's something new he takes small bites. We got him to try new things by going "if you dont like it, spit it in my hand" some things he liked some not so much. By doing that we opened his eyes and mouth to new textures and items he liked. We made it a game. 5 new things and very small portions. That way he didnt feel pressured or overwellemed. If he is willing to change, that is the first step. Make a reward chart of all the cool new things he tried. put smiles and frowns for what he likes and does not. My son is now 8 and will atleast try whats on his plate. He is doing much better and is not so picky. Oh almost forgot, he has a very bad gag reflux at the dentist. He gags anytime you touch the roof of his mouth. That might have been part of his problem. The reflux made his tummy hurt and made him feel sick if his bites were too big. good luck:) wendy

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N., I have a son who is 13 and it sounds like he has this disorder. He eats hardly anything. But there is hope. When he was very young he would eat very well. Then texture and smell really did him in and most of what he likes to eat now is carbs that are very bland. Other than strange eating he is normal in height, and weight, etc. Over the course of the last year or so he has really made strides on his own to try new things ( or thing that he used to eat). He recently tried spare ribs with BBQ sauce. He didn't particularly like it but said he would probably try it again after a while. I find when my husband and other son try to encourage him to try new things he gets frustrated and then won't try anything, even if it was previously in his mind to do so. When I make something to eat that I know is not on his eat list, I just ask him if he would like some. If he says no, then he knows that that is okay and I am not pressuirng him. Pressure seems to make it worse. Good luck. It is not easy, but it is worth it.


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I can't imagine how difficult your situation problem is. Have you or your doctor thought about getting your son and the family into therapy? I know most people don't want to see therapists because they feel they will be labeled as "crazy", but perhaps a therapist coul help your son first of deal with his feelings about "being different" and then with his feelings toward food. Also, you may want to check some of the bigger hospital websites, because there may be some programs for children with eating disorders tha your son could participate in.
I wish you and your family the best! You are a great mother that obviously cares for her children dearly. C.

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My son is 6 and he is the same way. He has always been this way he won't eat any veggies, no soft food (mashed potatoes, rice, etc...) Everyone tells me he is a picky eater. I have tried making him eat these foods, I have tried rewarding . Nothing works!! I can't force him because he will just go without eating. I found what works for me is to hide the veggies in everyday food ... My son likes spagetti so I get the sauce that has veggies in it . For the most part I wouldn't worry if he's healthy and a good weight . Good Luck!!

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Your motherly intuition is correct. If you feel there is something wrong with your child, there probably is. The doctor who told you that you were over reacting is not a good doctor at all. A good doctor will listen to your concerns and help you work them out. Just because they went to medical school doesn't mean they know everything about your child. Every child is different and not all situations are the same. Find a doctor that is willing to help and not ignore what you know in your heart is a problem your son is facing. Your son is crying for your help if he has already said he feels different from others. It is up to you and your family to help him through this, what I am sure for him, tough time.

Best wishes and God Bless
Z. Floresville TX

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i don't have any answer about this, but I'll pray for you.

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My grandson is just like this...my daughter says 100%. She would be willing to communicate with you by email if you like. She lives in upstate New York and my grandson is 7 years old. Let me know if you would like to hear from her. I am L. at ____@____.com

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Hi, I am having the same situation with my daughter she is 4 years old and its only getting worse, we thought it was her tonsils so we had them removed..not any help...now she eats nothing..(she only ate icecream before having them out). PLEASE can anyone help me?? I talked to her Dr. and of course see no problem, she has lost weight over the last 4 months, but her dr is not concerned because her weight is up from her last well visit last year. I am so upset..I want to help her but dont know how. Can anyone please help me!!!!!

you can disguise vegetables/fruits in their food. get the seinfield cook book. do let him have unhealthy foods ie sweets. he'll eat if he gets hungry.

Wow you just described my 3 1/2 yr old, yeah alot of people think kids are picky eaters at this age, but he wont touch meat at all, ive even tried hiding it ha, that didnt work, then he wouldnt even eat that because the meat had been in it, not a big fruit eater, no veggies except green beans, that is the only thing he eats, grean beans, hot dogs, vienna sausages, and spam, mashed pot., mac n cheese (only a little) (the only "meats" if you want to call them that he will eat), and that is about all he will eat nothing else. And like your son he is a healthy weight and height for his age, he will be four in July and he weighs 39.5 pounds and he is (well really i cant remember) but he is tall for his age also. Nothing worked for us, i have tried everything i was told and ever thought of, nothing worked. Good Luck in this.

Dear N.,
I was alot like your son as a child...and it drove me
crazy because it was always an issue at the table. But, when
my parents finally ignored it, I was able to relax. I learned
that my taste buds were different from my parents...and now
I eat everything except sweet potatoes, because when food was
such an issue, my parents would fight over the right way to
handle things and they tried the FORCE YOUR CHILD TO EAT SOMETHING NEW...and to this day I will not eat sweet potatoes.

B. (age 41 150 lbs)

My son is the same as your son,but he does not throw up. He is 14 and lives on carbs with an occasional chicken nugget. He loves pancakes and ramen noodles. He has never eaten a vegetable unless you count French Fries. He will eat an orange about twice a year. I took him to the Doctor this past August. I told the Doctor about my son's eating habits. They ran some bloodwork on him to make sure that he was not anemic or have other problems. All of his tests were normal. He is healthy and the Doctor said for me to get him to try other foods but not to worry about it or force food on him. Well, that is easier said than done. I was just relieved that he was healthy. I give him a multivitamin every day and he does love milk. I don't have any answers,but I wanted to let you know that you are not alone on this. Hopefully,by the time your son is a teenager, he will eat better than my son does. My son is very active. He likes to skateboard and play basketball, so he is constantly burning up the few calories that he does eat. I guess I will follow my Dcotor's advice and try not to worry about it so much. I hope this helped.

I also have an 8yr old boy with this exact disorder! For years everyone has made a joke about it and gets annoyed with it but as his mother I feel terrible for him! Literally he only eats waffles (a specific brand and style) BBq chips(only lays!) peanut butter sandwhiches(no jelly, certain PB only), and grapes and 2 kinds of cereal! Its so hard for me to watch but even harder for him! Over the years he has actually taken foods away instead of adding them onto his list! Doctors always tell me "doctors always tell me he will grow out of it" and I always knew it was something more! I attempt to give him vitamins and its a war, I'm so scared for him, and loosing my mind with this! Thank you for posting this as I will do more research about this eating disorder to help my baby boy! Some nights I lay around wondering if he doesn't eat something, they are gonna take him and put him in a clinic to help him and that terrifies me ( as my mom was taken and put in one for being anorexic when I was a child) I hope you find a solution that helps your son also!

I too just found out about selective eating disorder and I too thought BINGO!! I could tell the same story you have only my daughter is only 5, but our stories are very similar. I am lucky because the few things she eats are pretty healthy..cheese, bread, fruit. She actually does not like most sweets. However, when asked to try new things she acts repulsed by it. I was starting to think she was anorexic because she can go so long on a small amount of food, thankfully the more I read, I found out that wasn't the case. My doctor also keeps blowing this off and has for about 3 years. I think doctors do this because the child's weight is normal. Shame on them, that doesn't mean the child is healthy. I plan on seeking some sort of counseling for her if I can find it. My cousin is 35 and still only eats the same 5 things he has eaten since childhood, I do not want her to end up that way.

Yeah N.. Great mother's intuition. Thank heavens for technology. Have you gone back to your ped with this info? Surely they would have the resources to research this further. Or how about a nutritionist or a psychiatrist even? (Since most other eating disorders are treated this way.) If your current ped won't listen, go to another. I believe mother knows best, and you just proved it.
Sorry I don't have any more help. Good luck in your search.

Hi N.,
I have two younger sisters who both had the symptoms you mentioned in your 7 year old. The youngest seems more like him. All she ate growing up were pringles, peanut buter sandwiches(no jelly) and milk. No meat, no fuits, no vegetables, no soda, no fruit juices, nothing. It really bothered my mother for a long time and the doctors told her the sames things you described above. Try not letting them eat unless they ate what everyone else did, trying relentlessly to get them to try new foods and nothing worked. Now she is 17 years old and is still pretty much the same way. She had added salsa and pizza(cheeze only) to her diet.
It always drove people crazy that she wouldnt eat, but she has grown up to be a healthy happy young adult.
My point is dont stress to much because as he gets older you may notice different things being added in to his diet, and as long as he is healthy and happy then you are doing your job.
Hope this helps ease your mind a little. He's not the only one.

My so is the same. He is 8 years old. There are only 10 foods on the list that he eats (thats including junk food and couple of fruits.) There are only 3 dishes that he eats - pasta (the way I make it), mama noodles and chicken (only one kind, the way I make it). He can go days without eating, never gets hungry. Gets very upset when he has to eat. We still feed him. And even the food that is on his list - he can only eat 5 spoons at a time, not more. Food is disgusting to him. He is smaller than kids of his age, looks ab 6 years old. Skinny too. What do I do? SHould I take him to psychiatrist? Can you please email me ____@____.com so we can discuss this.
Thank you

I recently purchased a book by, of all people, Jerry Seinfeld's wife called "Deceptively Delicious" and it seems to offer a variety of recipes that very creatively hide nutritional ingredients into more kid-friendly options, especially for the picky eater. Check it out! All the best,

My son is four years old and I can list on my hands what food he eats. Since he was six months he would fight and cry to drink his milk. I had to wait until he was almost asleep then put the bottle in his mouth, then he would drink his milk. He is my only child! I told the Dr. and he never help me and my husdand with this problem. Now he is four and he take an hour to drink his milk, he will not eat ice cream, cake, candy etc. He likes rice and dhal(lentile soup) mix together. He is 39 inc and he weights 27 lbs. I am so frustrated and I do not know what to do! His Pediatrician is no help. Please help me for I do not know what to do or where to go to help my son.

I feel so badly for him to be so repulsed by most foods, and for you to be suffering along with him. (I went through a short period of depression years ago, and I remember that nothing looked or tasted appealing - eating was just work and that's no fun at all!)

Excellent job trusting your "mommy instincts". My god-daughter has similar food issues, but to a lesser degree. My girlfriend was able to get her referred to see a nutritionist and it helped. If your pediatrician doesn't take your findings seriously, I think you should seek another - especailly since your son is sometimes at the point of vomitting when most kids would just say "I didn't like that".

I sure do hope this gets better for both of you - I'll be sure not to complain about my kiddos not eating enough veggies anymore, knowing what you're going through!

My son is 3 and is the same way- maybe not the most logical suggestion but I am guessing that he likes sweets... when it is time to eat turn his food into a smoothy-bananas, strawberries, yogurt and a little ice- tell him it is a milkshake... liquids are better than nothing... I make several smoothies to get my son to eat vegetables and fruits... try cucumber & Lime juice- peel cucumbers & limes about 4 large cucumbers & 4 small limes blend them with water in a blender- add a little sugar or splenda to taste... strain out pulp with a fine strainer-putting juice in a pitcher and pulp back into the blender- add more water to the blender-blend and repeat until you have enough juice to fill the picture... another juice you can try is watermelon- blend the melon(seedles) leaving pulp in the water, add a little sweetener to taste... My husband gets so frustrated with my son because he will not eat very well, he is all skin and bones, but my doctor says he is maintianing his weight and seems to be very healthy... If you would like some other suggestions on foods feel free to email me and I would be happy to tell you some of the other ways to try for your son, I have even gone as far as putting brown sugar and butter into carrots- blindfolding my son and telling him I had a surprise and he couldn't see it only taste-now he will eat candy carrots for me... its a step-don't care if its the helathies but he now eats carrots-LOL! Goodluck!

I don't know anything about Selective Eating Disorder, but my younger brother ate four foods when he was younger: peanut butter, cheese, milk, and bread. He is now 39 years old, is 6'1", weighs around 180 lbs. His health is fine, although I would never consider him a very healthy eater to this day. We have a one bite rule that surprises everyone, including my own picky eater. I also got my girls their own apron and chef's hat and had them help me prepare dinner. They are more inclined to try new things especially if they help prepare it! If your son's behavior seems extreme, than you could ask your son's school for the name of a counselor who specializes in eating disorders. Good Luck!


My son at 18 months could go 3 to 4 days without eating. He would only eat bacon, peanut butter, chips & sugared ceral. His doctors told me that not to worry just feed him a fruit and some type of protein (even if it was the same thing) day after day. We had all sorts of tests done on him because if we forced him to eat anything he did not want to eat he threw up. He did move on to macaroni and hot dogs and to other things as the years went by. Once he was old enough I told him I would serve food and if he didn't like it he could make himself a hot dog. He is now 25 years old and still likes less foods then the rest of my kids, but once a girl entered his life, he ate anything she cooked. I do worry about his health in his later life, but he is old enough to understand that what you eat today will affect your tomorrow. Perhaps some counseling would help him if there is an underlying problem but it is most likely a control issue. Try not to worry too much and don't make a big deal about it. If you have ruled out psychological and physical issues, then it is just his issue and the more you worry the more he controls you. I hope that helps. Take care.


If he has an eating disorder, counseling may be of benefit.
My teen daughter had a friend with one, and went with her to
counseling so she would be willing to go. She recovered nearly
completely and that was 3 years ago and she is still good.
Sounds like he is ready mentally, too.

I have heard of selective eating disorder and its actually considered a clinical disorder that falls within the catch-all subcategory of eating disorder. I just got married and its took a while for me to realize that my husband is not just a "picky eater" and that his eating conduct was out of the realm of normal. My husband's comments and actions are very similar to your sons. However, after years and years of eating only certain foods (eliminating food groupos like vegetables and fruits) he has developed a series of conditions, and certain of those conditions lead to others (ie. obesity- mostly around th waist, low testoserone, sleep apnea, digestive disorders, bronchial disorders etc). I am not trying to panic you, but I think you should have him evaluated by a psychiatrist that specializes in OCD and eating disorders. The categiorical refusal to eat food groups, and the revulsion that accompanies forcing oneself to eat certian things may be signs of Selective Eating Disorder. There is a school of thought that SED is an ofshoot of OCD. Good luck and good for you for reaching out on his behalf.

All my children are picky. My oldest was the worst, I think I would put her in between picky and what your describing. BUt when she got in high school around 10th grade she started changing. She had never ate bread her whole life and all of a sudden she liked bread, she never ate any vegetables now she eats salads more than anything. She is still picky about lots of things, she still wont go near chicken but she has started trying things you could bribe her to try before. I know this wasnt much help for your now situation but maybe some hope for the future. I still have to find answers for my other picky ones.. My 6 yr old only wants Ramen noodles most of the time......UGHHHHHHHHHH!

I am very interested to know what has been a solution to your childs eating? My child is 7 years old and has the same issues that you have mentioned. I have seeked help but nothing has helped. Now I'm at a point that I force him to try new foods. But it's a very slow process and he doesn't enjoy it. As he is getting older it's becoming a problem for him socially. Around other kids he pulls himself away when it's eating time and I can see it in his face that he is uncomfortable. Otherwise he doesn't have problem with friends. Only when food is concerned. Please let me know what has helped you?

Has he been tested for autism? SED is common in young people with austistic disorders.
What I've read was that it's more about taste, texture, smell and sight. It can stem from an incident. Say you've gagged on meat before, you may develop a fear of choking and become scared of eating anything chewy. It has also been linked to OCD and a fear of dirt and contamination over how the food has been prepared. I realize this is difficult mostly for your son.
Resetting patterns of behavior is commonly done using cognitive behavioral therapy. Look for a therapist that can deal with this. Exposure tends to work well. Say he eats only soup; put noodles in it and then work your way up to chicken.

If you are sure this is what he has, then don't make a big deal of his eating habits. Just fix him his foods and move on. But I would recommend finding a therapist for him or at least having him tested for autism.

I am 57 years old and have eaten only a few foods my entire life. The only meat I eat is bacon and I don't eat any vegetables. What do I eat? Peanut butter sandwiches (sometimes with honey or grape jelly), orange juice, toast, some cereals, pancakes, potatoes-(french fries, baked, mashed, american), shrimp, french toast, almonds, milk, cake, cookies, rolls, potato chips, bananas, and a few other foods.
I have learned to deal with the social difficulties that come with different eating habits but it was very difficult as a child.
My health has been excellent as has my energy level. At this stage in my life, for the most part, I don't care what others think of my eating habits, but at times it causes some stress.
I am very active physically so I keep in very good shape.
I wish you well but if he is healthy it then becomes a matter of whether or not he can learn to deal with the social implications.
Feel free to contact me if you want.

Have you thought of taking your son to see a occupational therapist for an evaluation? I used to work for a Pediatric speech-language pathologist who also employed physical therapists and occupational therapists. You would be surprised to learn what disorders are treated by these three therapies. I have seen even autistic children improve 100% with a combination of these 3 therapies. I would like to recommend Carol England, the owner of Language & Movement, in Austin, TX. ###-###-####. Just talk to her and see what she says. Of course, to get your insurance company to pay for therapy sessions, you will need the referral of your pedi or a pedi neurologist (you may have to fight for the referral) but please just give it a try. I have seen results for a number of childhood ailments that you would never associate with therapeutic treatment, but they work!
J. Martin

Hi...I've never heard of that. My youngest grandson never would eat anything green, still doesn't at 24yrs. We did get him to eat baked sweetpotatoes by asking to eat one bite. He was 4 at the time and that night he asked could he take some home, his Mom had a fit when he filled up a paper grocery bag to take with him. Hang in there, there has to be a solution, L.

Hi N.,

I am so sorry for your son! Have you thought about counseling for him? This type of disorder is foreign to me...but it seems that there should be a way to get him to see food as good for him. He has to be able to get past the mental block that he has towards food. I wonder if there is some sort therapy to recondition his attitude towards food.

My thoughts are with you.


My autistic son has a limited diet, too. He does not throw up, though. We are headed to a nutritionalist for help.
If your son is experiencing anxiety over food, you might try therapy. It sounds like he wants to get better, but doesn't know how. Therapists can help work through anxiety through baby steps. Or there is medication to help with anxiety. Speech Therapists can do food therapy as well. In the meantime, you could use vitamins to supplement his nutrition. They make liquid vitamins that could be mixed into a drink. There are also cookbooks out there that talk about ways to hide vegies, etc in commonly eaten food. I know there is one by Seinfeild's wife, but there are others, too. Deceptively Delicious seems like a title to one of them.
Plus, if he is growing at a normal rate, you are doing something right. Hang in there.
Good luck.

Maybe you could take him to a nutritionist(if you haven't already done so) and get some ideas about what you could do to supplement his diet with vitamins or protein powders so he gets the nutrients he needs.

My daughter sounds the same. I think she has had maybe five bites of vegetables since she started eating food. She is getting ready to turn 3 and is overall pretty healthy. The doctor says not to worry and if all I can get her to eat is ice cream then give it to her. If nothing else she is getting calcium. She just started eating some meat but very selectively. If its McDonald's chicken nuggets she is happy.

I talked to someone the other day any she recommended letting my daughter get in the kitchen and help cook dinner. They said that sometimes if the kids peel the vegetables, cook the meat, and help with all the overall preparation they are more likely to eat. I have not tried it yet, but am planning on it. I also found a business in Round Rock called "Little Chefs Academy". They take kids 3-17 and teach them to cook. I am going to try it out with my daughter and see how she does with someone else.

I would also check with a doctor who deals with eating disorders. I know they have psychiatrist/therapist who work with kids and eating disorders. You are his mother and know him the best. I would trust your instinct that there is a problem and find a different doctor that will listen to you and work with him.

Hi N.,
For what it's worth I am sensing that this is a past life issue for your son. I would recommend a spiritual counselor/past life regressionist to help him connect with and overcome this problem.

How is his energy level? Be careful of vitamin and mineral depletion. My daughter and I got this after several years of unhealthy eating (high carb and fast food). Will your son take vitamin supplements? Sorry I can't help much. My daughter is a good eater. We've had to make some better choices around our house. I, now, don't buy junk AT ALL.

I don't have a picky eater, but I did see a story on the National Geographic Channel of a British child who would only eat butter cookies and crackers. I believe he vomitted also if he was forced to eat anything different. It took several doctors, but they found out that he had some kind of acid reflux and crackers were the only thing that didn't upset his system. The child was much smaller than his siblings and was clearly unhealthy. Just thought I would throw this out there.

If at 7, he already perceives himself being different, I would worry about the teenage years. I haven't dealt with this particular issue but have dealt with a different disorder. I would strongely suggest to see a dr. that specializes in eating disorders. I took my child to a psychologist that dealt with this and they worked it out rather fast. Well, it was over an 18 month period but I thought that was fast. Good luck with whatever you choose to do. I would definately and seriously consider professional help. I think that the dr. that told you that you were over reacting was cruel. I think a mothers instinct goes a long way further than "professional" opinion. Just remember that you are not alone. Someone somewhere is suffering with the same problem and it is NOT all in your head.

I suggest a vitamin/mineral supplement from a health food store as they are of a higher quality and carry them in liquid that could be added to a drink he likes. In time that may stimulate his appetite and hopefully lesson his anxiety about trying something new. Could it be the texture of the food that he is repulsed by? We have 4 kids and tried a "one bite" rule: if you don't like it after one bite, you don't have to eat any more. If he is forced to eat, then vomits, he is losing more than he gains.

I don't have a child with selective eating disorder, but I do encounter unusual eating habits as I work with children who have autism and this is a common characteristic. As a parent, we all want our children to eat healthy and I understand about all the advice others give that really just makes us feel like bad parents. Anyway, it has been my experience that the kiddos seem to thrive despite the unhealthy food. Here's some examples that might make you feel better. I know a child who only eats french fries--that's it, every meal! He's only missed one day of therapy in years--he's healthy. Another kiddo actually licks the salt off of food rather than eating it. She does eat some foods, but her typical lunch consists of pepperoni, doritos, and noodles. There is another theory out there about kids who eat a high carb content. They say that type of food can act like an opiate in their system which is why they crave that particular type of food. Alot of parents i know I have put their children on casein/gluten free diets, however, if your child is so picky, he probably wouldn't go for the food. I would just say to hang in there and keep trying. Let him eat what he is willing to eat--at least it's more than only one thing!

Is he allergic to some foods? My sister has children with major food allergies and her neighbor could NOT get their children to eat, turns out they were allergic to them! Once they figured out what he could eat... it made things much better! They were to the point where they were feeding him through a tube! If your son is afraid to try new food and he throws up when he does... it could be that it hurts his tummy! It is worth having a simple blood test to see if that may be the problem! Good luck, this must be very hard!


Your concerns are valid. I am an adult who never received treatment for Selective Eating Disorder. It has totally ruled my life and severely interfered with both my social and professional functioning. Do whatever you can do to get your child therapy from a specialist in this area. I believe there is a clinic in Denver that specializes in childhood eating disorders.

I have not heard of this nor have I had any experience with this, but as his mom you know him best. Don't let people convince you that you are overreacting...trust your instincts. Have you considered taking him to a psychologist or psychiatrist to see if it is an emotional issue? Just a thought. Good luck!

This sounds more like and OCD )Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder. Does he have other things that he deems gross or anal about? I have a friend who's 15 yr old son could not eat with the family because seeing them eat from their own plates made him ill. He would eat in a room alone, he did this from a small age. He also has to have a fork to eat each item on his plate. Just a possible thought.

I know that this is hard for some parents to hear, but it might benefit your son to speak with a psychologist. Many eating disorders are psychologically based and even if this is not the case it might help him deal with feeling different from other kids.

Also, if you don't feel like your doctor is taking you seriously, consider changing doctors. I have read of many cases in which a parent's concerns were dismissed and after changing doctors the parent found that their concerns were justified. You know your child better than anyone else and don't let anyone (including a doctor) make you think any differently.

In the meantime, have you tried "hiding" nutritious foods in the foods your son will eat? There are many articles online and books that will show you how to puree vegetables and fruits and add them to pasta sauces and breads so that he might not know they are there. If he doesn't know and he still gets sick you would know it is not a psychological issue but rather a digestive issue. Since he is saying that the sight of new foods is disgusting, can you think of ways to prepare them so that they appear similar to what he already eats? Also consider giving him a good vitamin supplement.

I hope some of this helps.

Have you checked in to food allergies? Many foods may actually make him physically ill. My son is the same way, but I would be happy if his list of "likes" included 15 items. He probably only eats about 10 different types of food (mostly carbs). There is a theory out there that says that our kids are getting an opiate-like reaction in the brain from the carbs due to a "leaky gut." It's very interesting, but nothing has been scientifically proven that I am aware of. If you are interested you can check out information on the Gluten and Caesin (not sure on the spelling for caesin) free diet (GF/CF).


My name is P.. I'm a Personal Wellness Consultant. I live in Lake Pointe and I have a Nutritional "Club" right in Bee Caves.

I would love to visit with you and your son. There is no charge. Maybe we can figure something out together to help him get the nutrition that he needs and in a positive happy way.

Is this the 7 year old?

I look forward to hearing from you.


ps I have a 9 yr daughter and a 7 year old son. And he is somewhat picky as well.

I have never heard of selective eating disorder, but you are describing my son to a tee! I too get so frustrated when others think they have the answer to make my son eat. I have a child who does not eat cookies, chips, ice cream, pb & j...all those things you think a kid would eat. He has starved and dehydrated himself when I tried the theory "When he gets hungry/thirsty he'll eat/drink." My son eats about 5 foods total and at times will quit eating one or two of them. It is so hard! I give my son vitamins, but they have to be the gummy vitamins with no sugar and a certain texture, consistency, etc. There are gummie vegetable vitamins out there, but they are coated in sugar and my son will not eat them. Maybe yours will?! I would go to a health food store and look for supplements you think he might take to make up for the lack of nutrition. Also, if he drinks things well, V8 has a fruit drink kinda like a smoothie that is full of vegetables. Again, my son would not drink it, but maybe yours will! Good luck and please keep me updated, if you find any solutions I could sure use the help too.

I have a daughter who just turned 14 and she has the same eating habits as your son. She is high functioning autistic and her eating habits have always been blown off as part of the condition. But now she is getting to an age where her limited menu is becoming more noticeable to her peers and more of an issue. I am searching for help in Michigan. Would any of the doctors you have found know of anyone in Michgan? Thanks.

Try contacting Marissa Wandler at this website: http://www.eatwellworkoutsmart.com/

She has a child that she describes with similar behavior and she found a way to help him want to eat other foods. You can click on her "Bio" and her phone number is on the bottom. She is very knowledgable and has first hand experience with a picky eater.

I would seek medical intervention. As a mom of four, I have had picky eaters at various young ages. This sounds much more psychological and also is extremely unhealthy both physically and mentally. He realizes at this young age he is different and doesn't like that fact. You both need someone educated to help you work this out. Best of luck!

Hi N.,

My 5 year old has the same attitude toward food. After talking to alot of mom's you will find that your son is not alone in his food choices. Most children tend to follow a bland, carb loaded diet...and will only eat anything that is beige! My daughter eats bread, crackers, cookies, french fries, cereal..everything else is a struggle.

Follow your Peditricians advice, he is measuring what matters - growth and develpment. If your child is healthy I would not start labeling him with a disorder. That is something that could cause more damage than simply accepting the fact that he is choosy about what he eats. Labeling his behavior with something that could be seen as a psychological disorder may cause long term ramifications.

Why do you feel the need to put a label on it? It sounds to me like he's just a picky eater. He's probably just bright and strong willed and he's going to eat what he wants when he wants. You can encourage him to eat healthy. I would suggest talking to the pediatrician or a registered dietician for advice.

When i read your question the only thing i could think of was oh wow, that explains me as a child. To a "T". My parents just assumed i was just a picky child. I didnt eat veggies, salad or fruit, and what things i would eat were of no nutritional value or very little. I stayed that way until i was 18, believe it or not. I finally got tired of having to be so difficult when ordering food at restaurants and being embarassed. I have to say i never knew it may actually have been a disorder. When i hit 18 i realized htat there wasnt too much i could do. I looked into a lot of things and i knew that the thinking that all this food was disgusting (and never have trying it) was all in my head. So, as unconventional as it may seem, i went and got hypnotized. And im here to say that it honestly worked. And its been 3 years. Veggies and fruits are a regular part of my daily diet, and im now up to trying new food. It may seem a little weird, and what you already think you know about hypnotisim may not be so. Look into it, I promise it will be worth it!

And having been there I would say dont waste your money on counseling.. nothing anyone says will change his view on food. It's not some emotional problem and talking about it wont change a thing.

If he is of healthy weight then what is the big deal? My child is the same. I was the same as a child. Of course I had anxiety issues and stomach issues due to an infection they found in my digestive system. I am not sure if that is why I was like that...But I eventually later as a teen ate meat, eggs, and other foods. Food use to disgust me too. If he is healthy i.e never gets sick of his stomach, etc. I would not worry. Unless Medical Doctors have told you he has problems.
Thats my opinion
P. :)

Hi N.,
My son is 7 and he has sensory intergration issues..He is too over whelmed by the way food feels in his mouth and in turn it makes him gag/throw up and also we have found that he can't eat cooked veggies but he can eat and loves raw veggies he also doesnt really like much meat except for steak and chicken..we took him to occupational thearpy and it helped alot with his issues..if you take your son to see and OT ask them about the brushing thearpy it really helped my son with his sensory issues

Since it bothers him and he doesn't like it, I urge you to find a therapist who is trained to help. Try calling the Meninger Clinic in Houston. (800) 351-9058 or ###-###-####.

While I don't think your son needs to go there (as it is inpatient), they can probably refer you to a therapist or Dr. in your area trained to work with this disorder. IF he weren't expressing not liking it, I would say to just try the gluten free diet as has been recommended. However, I urge you to go further as it bothers him.

Best of luck!

I just read this great book called "The Kid friendly ADHD Autism cookbook" http://ani.autistics.org/dsm4-aspergers.html It says that some kids eat only carbs/sugars (carbs convert to sugar) because of the opiate high they get from it. These children have to have a limmited diet of these things, which is hard at first because that's all they want to eat. I put my girls on a gluten free diet and it was really hard at first. But they are finely eating the gluten free bread and pasta, love GF pancakes and waffles and french toast. Gluten is in most forms of wheat, in oats, and an additive in many pre packaged foods such as modified food starch and malt flavoring.

After my girls had been gluten free for a month and a half or so I wasn't really sure it was helping so I put them back on regular foods and bam- my oldest daughter was a monster! She had such a strong reaction a day or two after going off the diet. Gluten definitely is an opiate to her.

So, as hard as it is to take away the one thing he'll eat, it might be neccesary to severely limit the starches and replace them with a gluten free, sugar free and/ or starch free (as some kids, mentioned in the book, have to have a selective starch diet!) it might be just what he needs!

BTW, I have always had a starch only choice of diet until I started eating the GF diet with my kids. My choice of foods has definitely changed- something about the opiate reaction in my body inhibiting me from enjoying other things. I've known about GF diets for a long time but hadn't heard of specific starch diets until yesterday. http://www.lowcarb.ca/atkins-diet-and-low-carb-plans/spec...

I want to say great job trusting yourself. You sound like you're really on top of it. Try and find a specialist for a consult on the disorder. Worst case scenario, you've wasted some $150 or so. Best case scenario is more info and assisstance.

They actually have an increased sense of smell and hate most food because of that smell. There is a famous cook whose son suffered the same malady. You and your son are not crazy and people who want to say you can approach every problem or child the same way are simple minded. Keep looking and best of luck!!

My 15 year old daughter is exactly the same. She eats the same 12 foods that she ate when she was 2. No vegetables, no meats, mostly carbs and she would rather go hungry than try anything new. You may want to visit: http://www.dukehealth.org/services/eating_disorders/progr...

I used to think she would outgrow it. But I saw a story on 60 Minutes about adult selective eaters and I now worry that she'll be this way unless we intervene. Hope this helps. Good luck!

Hi N., I have a 6 year old boy who is the same way,he is also healthy,and in the 75% for his age.all you can do is keep trying to find things he will like,and try to get him to take a bite of new foods.this has been strange for me to but he does like mac an cheese,pizza, peanut butter,and theese are not bad foods.good luck,and I am sure he will be fine

Hi N.,

My oldest son was the same way. He would only eat certain things. NO veggies ever. I thought at the time he was gonna starve to death, but he grew out of it. His doctor said to me he will eat when he is hungry. My son is 35 years old now and he eats healthy even salads. So give it some time, I know it is hard but he will grow out of this stage.

My daughter (now 10) is very similar.
She eats bread, crackers, sometimes peanut butter and one fruit. (no meat, no vegetables, no pasta, cheese or anything else -- especially nothing slimy)
One time when i forced her to eat chicken, it got stuck in her mouth -- she wouldn't swallow or spit it out (she had a complete meltdown/panic attack).

In an attempt to break her of her strange eating, we have tried presenting her with the same meal we're having (throwing it out uneaten at the end of mealtime) and repeating for several nights -- She will go to bed hungry 4 nights in a row and then i fold in (can't take it anymore).

As a baby she used to have really bad belly aches (and never could use a bottle/nipple -- went from breastfeeding to a cup).

Six months ago, I started her on Pediasure -- at the time she only weighed 50 Lbs. @ 4ft-7in -- she's since gained 10 Lbs and experienced a growth spurt. (but is now totally addicted to Pediasure).

She has other issues (Selective Mutism and bathroom issues in the past).

We are currently taking her to OT -- haven't gone long enough to see any improvement (they are massaging her) -- I'm having a hard time believing in it and I don't know how much longer we can afford (health insurance doesn't cover).

Let me know if you learn anything helpful, N.. I'm sorry you've had trouble feeding your son -- I know how all-encompassing this issue is -- and how it can leave you feeling distraught and guilty -- one thing: you're not alone.

You just described my 13 yr old for to a tee and now i feel horrible for not ever researching it. Really it is a family joke, now I feel sad to say that! Thank you... I am going to look into this.

My son doesn't express any concerns about the way he is... I have done everything and finally he just eats what he wants.
None of my other kids are like this though I have been accused many times of not disciplining him right about it...

Thanks again... please keep me posted on what you find out. I am going to start googling this right now


I have a 9 year old daughter who suffers from this. I am interested in your current progress since you posted @ seeing a therapist. We have been to multiple therapists over the years with no luck. A bite here and there of a novel thing never results in a new item on the menu. Also, does your son have any issues w/habits such as only using certain utensils or only eating certain item from certain place?

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