Is there such a thing as a food phobia?

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Jerseygirlteach, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,439
    Likes Received:
    2

    Jan 20, 2014

    Okay, so I have a serious issue with my 12 year old son. He doesn't eat food. I can practically count on my fingers the number of foods he will eat. When we go to other people's houses, it's always a problem because - unless they have the very specific foods he will eat prepared in the very specific way he will eat - he refuses everything.

    He has always been like this, but people kept telling me he would grow out of it when he gets older. He hasn't in the least. I made a New Year's resolution for us, though. I decided I was going to try to "cure" him by forcing him to eat different foods. So, I continue to make him separate food at meal time (yes, I know that this was the mistake I made from the beginning) but I now force him to eat a small portion of whatever I make for the rest of us. You would not believe how difficult that is. Last night I made cheese tortellini with spinach alfredo sauce. Sounds like a kid's dream come true, right? It took me a 1/2 an hour of begging and threatening to get him to consume an extremely small portion.

    The way he approaches any food other than the few he's willing to eat is how the rest of us would approach eating a plate of dead insects (sorry for the analogy). Just to be clear, I don't force him to repeatedly eat a few foods that he doesn't like. He doesn't like almost anything! If there was a variety of foods that he liked and he didn't, for example, enjoy tortellini, I would let it go. But again, he doesn't want almost anything.

    At this point, I've told him that my objective is not to get him to like a variety of foods. That seems too lofty a goal. I just want him to be able to tolerate a variety of foods.

    Have you ever heard of any kind of phobia related to eating different foods? Also, do you think I'm going about this the wrong way - forcing him to eat a variety of foods? Just please keep in mind that he is very thin and I think his diet as is is very unhealthy.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2.  
  3. bison

    bison Habitué

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2012
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 20, 2014

    Have you tried speaking to his doctor or a mental health professional about this? It does sound like it might end up being a health concern and severe enough that he might benefit from professional help or strategies. Phobias and other serious aversions are curable.

    Also, one idea. Since you want him to tolerate at least a few more foods, you could focus on the healthy stuff first in case you're only able to get to a few. Salads, veggies prepared in a yummy way, etc. Does he like smoothies? You can make great smoothies by using nutritious green leaves (like baby spinach or kale) and fruits. They look green, but ending up tasting like the fruit. Might be a way to get some greens in his diet.

    What happens if you don't make him separate meals and only give him the food the rest of the family is eating? Do you think he'd eventually give in and eat what you're eating? What are the foods he does eat?
     
  4. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2002
    Messages:
    3,274
    Likes Received:
    38

    Jan 20, 2014

    Have you talked to his dr. about this? My family, as a whole are picky eaters, this includes my husband. I've decided that I'm going to cook good, wholesome food. If they don't like it, there's bread and peanut butter & jelly. Of course, I don't think my family is as picky as your son.

    I'd think about the texture of the food he does like. Can you try to find other foods with the same texture? Or maybe start by making those food he does like in slightly different ways.
     
  5. bison

    bison Habitué

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2012
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 20, 2014

    This is great and gives me another idea. Do you ever involve your son in the food prep? Maybe if he is part of the process (starting with making foods he likes in different ways), it will encourage him to at least try the end result.
     
  6. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2002
    Messages:
    3,274
    Likes Received:
    38

    Jan 20, 2014

    That's a great idea! It's how I learned to eat potato salad! Maybe he could help with meal planning.
     
  7. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    7,946
    Likes Received:
    4

    Jan 20, 2014

    I like a very limited number of foods. The things I've never tried always surprises people. Even desserts, which people assume I'd love because I'm a chunker and I love chocolate...cheesecake, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and the list goes on. I just couldn't bring myself to ever try them. My issue has a lot to do with texture, but that's not always the case. I like everything very, very plain and simple.

    I eat the same few meals every week. It can be annoying to others when I'm at their house or trying to find something on the menu, but it doesn't bother me.

    If he's getting proper nutrition, it's probably not a major deal but worth discussing with a professional.
     
  8. eternalsaudade

    eternalsaudade Companion

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2012
    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jan 20, 2014

    If he is not getting a proper nutritional balance, you should definitely consult with his physician on how to ensure that he does.

    I would also stop preparing food especially for him. Prepare meals for the entire family and if he chooses not to eat it, let him know that he is welcome to prepare his own meal. At the very least, this will relieve you of having to prepare separate food for him constantly. At best, it will persuade him to give non-preferred foods a chance.
     
  9. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2003
    Messages:
    6,809
    Likes Received:
    190

    Jan 20, 2014

    We were talking about picky eaters. I used to be picky...not as picky as your son, but picky. I remember being little & not eating something until it was gone. I mean it was put in fridge and brought out for everything. My mom told me her dad did the same thing to one of my older cousins who didn't want to eat what rest of family ate (he stayed with our gparents for a weekend) for like 3 days my cousin had to eat this or nothing else. He finally gave in and ate it...liked it... LOL!!! I will try stuff, but doesn't mean I like it.
     
  10. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Messages:
    4,395
    Likes Received:
    7

    Jan 20, 2014

    The first thing I would do is stop making other foods. I tell my picky eaters, it is absolutely fine if they don't want to eat what I have prepared, but I'm not a short-order cook. They may prepare, and clean up, what they want to eat, as long as it fits our requirements (not high sugar, processed, must include at least one veggie, etc). Sometimes they will feel strongly enough to do this, other times it is just easier to eat what I cooked.

    Second, make sure you only buy and keep foods that you are ok with him eating. If he will only eat mac and cheese, I would make sure that the type he is getting is low sodium, and as low calories as possible.
     
  11. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Messages:
    4,395
    Likes Received:
    7

    Jan 20, 2014

    Sidebar!

    You are absolutely gorgeous. Ok, so maybe that's weird to say to you, but every time I see your picture I think that girl is beautiful!

    :):hugs:
     
  12. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    5,996
    Likes Received:
    1,474

    Jan 20, 2014

    I am really, really weird about food textures. There are some things that I absolutely will not eat, and nobody is going to make me eat it.

    My mom never made special meals for me, so I always had to eat something from the dinner table or make myself a peanut butter sandwich. She cooked full meals, so there was always something I'd eat.

    I'm still very particular about certain foods. I would never eat hamburgers or hot dogs, which most kids love. Certain food textures make me gag. I can't help it. Believe me, my life would be a lot easier if I'd eat more things.
     
  13. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 24, 2008
    Messages:
    3,513
    Likes Received:
    15

    Jan 20, 2014

    Preparing his meal and then asking him to eat a few bites of something else probably won't improve the situation.

    I would look for someone in your area who is trained in Systematic Desensitization (sometimes called Exposure Therapy). It is a very effective (and sometimes quick) treatment option for phobias. The process "sounds" easy and you could maybe do it yourself, but if you "mess up" you run the risk of making the phobia stronger. So, I would get help from someone trained in the technique.

    If it truly is a phobia (and it very likely could be) SD would very much improve his situation. I have a LOT of faith in the technique.
     
  14. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    6,305
    Likes Received:
    2,194

    Jan 20, 2014

    I read someone has to try something 14 times to get used to the taste if it is something that he doesn't first like.
     
  15. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2005
    Messages:
    2,055
    Likes Received:
    167

    Jan 20, 2014

    I want you to think about when you were pregnant with your son. I know it sounds silly but just do it. My son hates and I mean absolutely hates red meat. Here is the kicker. When I was pregnant with him red meat absolutely made me sick. Couldn't eat one once of it without running to the bathroom. Chicken and fish were about the only thing I could eat. So It could be something like that.
     
  16. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,439
    Likes Received:
    2

    Jan 20, 2014

    That is so funny that you say that because I'm a vegetarian (trying to reform myself but I was very strict about it when I was pregnant with him), and he is all about meat. If it were up to him, he'd eat steak or chicken every night.

    Someone else asked what he eats. It's pretty limited to steak/roast beef, chicken (prepared very simply), salad (must be romaine and celery with ranch dressing), plain mashed potatoes, some fruits, scrambled eggs, pizza with very little sauce, and bread things (bagels, pancakes, rolls, a few types of cereal, PB & J...) Oh, and a few desserts, of course. ;) That's it. He has a strong aversion to any kind of sauce, hates pasta, rice, soup, and absolutely refuses to eat anything that I didn't mention above. You should see his face if we go somewhere and someone tries to get him to eat lasagna or spaghetti and meatballs or stew or something. :eek:hmy: I forced him to eat a tiny amount of chicken and dumplings tonight. He literally wiped off the chicken with a napkin and completely refused to eat the dumpling.

    I have mentioned it to our pediatrician in front of him, but maybe I didn't fully explain it because she didn't think it was that big of a deal. I guess I could try to find some kind of aversion therapist. I'll consult with my pediatrician.

    Thanks for the feedback. :)
     
  17. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 24, 2008
    Messages:
    3,513
    Likes Received:
    15

    Jan 20, 2014

    You mean Systematic Desensitization aka Exposure Therapy ... Aversion Therapy teaches the aversion (e.g. bad taste on nails to stop nail biting ... the OPPOSITE of what you want to do).
     
  18. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Messages:
    6,112
    Likes Received:
    961

    Jan 20, 2014

    I'm an extremely picky eater and was much worse as a kid. In my house, I had to eat what mom cooked, but mealtimes would sometimes take 2 hours when I was very young because it would take me that long to get the food down. As I've gotten older, I've learned that it's likely due to my taste buds being more sensitive than most people. Apparently it's a primary cause of "picky" eaters. For example, vegetables taste horribly bitter to me. I eat them because they're healthy, but I hate them. I was shocked to learn that most other people really don't taste the bitterness. I also don't like any desserts that taste "rich" because they are far too sweet to me. I honestly prefer desserts that are "diet" or sugar free or something because they already taste very sweet to me. I've been able to branch out a lot as I've gotten older, but that's partly because tastebuds get less sensitive as we age. When I was little I would literally involuntarily gag on vegetables. Now I still don't like the taste, but I can manage to eat them normally.
     
  19. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2007
    Messages:
    4,466
    Likes Received:
    1,493

    Jan 20, 2014

    As a kid, I was a very, very picky eater. Additionally, I was super skinny. The doctor said I was healthy, though, so my mom didn't really worry too much (as long as I something). For example, if she made salmon with rice and a salad, I'd eat the rice and salad with a dinner roll (because I didn't like salmon).

    As an adult, I'll pretty much eat anything. I'm not picky at all when it comes to food.
     
  20. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,439
    Likes Received:
    2

    Jan 20, 2014

    Got it. Thanks. :)
     
  21. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,439
    Likes Received:
    2

    Jan 20, 2014

    That's comforting, thanks! Of course, my son wouldn't even eat the rice, though. :huh:
     
  22. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2005
    Messages:
    3,591
    Likes Received:
    3

    Jan 20, 2014

    What does your son say about eating? Does he just not like to eat, or does he not like the food? He sounds like many PS when it comes to eating. PS should be fed un-mixed food so that they learn and trust the food. So, instead of Spaghetti and meat balls, we serve noodles, and hamburger patties. There is sauce for dipping. Maybe you could save your son's portion and not mix it.
     
  23. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2009
    Messages:
    1,091
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jan 20, 2014

    I had this problem. My son is a grown man now and he survived. My son liked maybe 5 different things growing up. It was awful. He would say no sauce, this meant any type of condiment gravy etc. He would not eat any sweets except unfrosted cake. He ate spaghetti out of a can, roast, a home cooked hamburger plain, peanut butter on Zesta crackers. No bread. I tried the arguing etc. The worst fight we ever had was over green beans. He would eat fruit. Almost all kinds. No vegetables.

    His Dr gave him vitamins and iron. He was anemic. His Dr referred us to a specialist that determined he had sensitive taste buds.
    He still is very picky and drives his wife crazy, but he is healthy and does use supplements. He still will not touch sweets, vegetables, or any type of alcohol....says they all taste nasty. He drinks water and milk. No coffee, tea, or soda. I feel for you and suggest you talk to his Dr about his taste buds.
     
  24. bros

    bros Phenom

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Messages:
    4,105
    Likes Received:
    68

    Jan 21, 2014

    I have been a skinny person my whole life (currently weigh 105-110).

    I am a picky eater, sort of. From when I was 12 to when I was 13, my weight dropped from 83 pounds, to 70 pounds. Obviously, this concerned my doctor, so I had a bunch of tests done. One of the things he did to help me get back some weight was tell my mom to feed me fatty foods - whatever I would eat to try to gain weight. I had a lot of ice cream/root beer floats that summer. Gained like 2 pounds. Turned out there was nothing wrong with me, just that I lost a bunch of weight for no reason.

    Could he have a sensory issue with the texture? Or perhaps a hypersensitivity to taste (I believe issues with taste can be addressed by an ENT).
     
  25. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2010
    Messages:
    1,150
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 23, 2014

    It sounds like he is an extremely picky eater. As a kid i mostly lived off chicken noodle soup, spaghetti-o's, chicken nuggets, and Happy Meals, and a few fruits because i hated so many foods, especially most veggies, grits, corn beef hash, lamb/pork chops, etc.

    I think a phobia is an actual fear and/or irrational thoughts about a food. for instance, i have a bit of a phobia about tuna fish.

    It's just so disgusting. I still remember a nightmare I had about it in high school. I woke up needing to vomit. I avoided chicken salad for years just because it looked like tuna. I did a week long fast where i could only drink liquids and tuna STILL wasn't appealing to me. I ate some in a macaroni salad and as soon as it was in my mouth, i spit it out.

    If i touched tuna, it gives me the chills. I can't stand the sight or smell. Blech.
     
  26. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2005
    Messages:
    4,896
    Likes Received:
    5

    Jan 23, 2014

    My nephew is a picky eater. He is now 19 years old and tried chicken wings for the first time last year. He won't eat anything with sauces on it (salads, potato salad, spaghetti, gravy, etc..). His Thanksgiving dinner consists of corn and a bun with butter. His New Year's resolution this year is to eat one piece of lettuce every week, lol.
     
  27. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Messages:
    18,938
    Likes Received:
    682

    Jan 23, 2014

    I actually was surprised when you listed the foods your son does eat because I didn't think there would be that many decent foods on the list. If you can't just separate out a plain piece of meat from the meal you are cooking, then teach him how to make his own chosen foods, buy the ingredients, and let him cook his own dinner. I don't think any cajoling, begging, or pleading is going to solve things. Let him eat the foods he likes unless there is a health issue, but don't let him manipulate you into cooking just for him.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. Anthony Dohman,
  2. TeacherNY
Total: 261 (members: 5, guests: 233, robots: 23)
test