We’ve all heard hassled parents of young children bemoaning fussy eating and wondering what to do about a child who doesn’t seem to want to eat more than one or two things. The reality is that most kids who are fussy eaters will grow out of it. But what is to be done about adults who display the same sort of finicky attitude towards food?
Some people are naturally more ‘fussy eaters’ than others and can find a wider variety of tastes and textures unpleasant to eat. Others may be vegetarians or vegans for ethical reasons. As humans are omnivores, we can thrive on a wide range of diets, and a degree of fussiness, or restricting our diet for ethical reasons, is not generally a problem.
However, for some people, apparent ‘fussy eating’ can be a mask for damaging eating disorders or can be an unhealthy coping mechanism for an untreated underlying issue. In these cases, it’s important to address the person’s relationship with food, as their physical and emotional health can be affected—and even their capacity to operate in the modern world.
Some people find the thought of eating unfamiliar food so overwhelming that it is very difficult for them to eat anywhere but home. The prospect of going out for a business lunch can seem terrifying and travelling abroad—where the food may be very different to what they are familiar with—can be out of the question. Clearly, this has the potential to have a serious negative impact on their personal and professional lives.
Others restrict the number of foodstuffs they are prepared to ingest so much that, even if they are a healthy weight, they are not obtaining the full range of vitamins and minerals they require. Vitamin or mineral deficiencies can have very serious implications for our health, and lead to problems such as osteoporosis, diabetes, symptoms of dementia, and more. While some people may try to address this situation by taking supplements, the best way by far to ensure a nutritious diet is to eat across a wide range of food types, with an emphasis on fresh vegetables.
Yet others may struggle to accept that their real problem is an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia and mask their underlying condition with the idea that they are ‘just’ a fussy eater. Needless to say, an untreated eating disorder can be devastating and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Thankfully, a variety of approaches can help people who struggle with issues around food. Over time, by managing their behaviours more productively, and working to understand the reasons for their difficult relationship with food, most people can get better.
WHO CAN I SPEAK TO FURTHER ABOUT THE ISSUES IN THIS ARTICLE?
For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.