Picky Eater Rehab

I once knew of a boy who ate only yogurt, toast, and spaghetti–and nothing else. His family couldn’t go to other people’s houses during mealtimes unless they brought his food with them, but this was embarrassing, so they mostly stayed home.

My kids can be unreasonably picky sometimes, but well within normal range for kids, I think–especially after reading this news story about Erin Graham, a 9 year old girl so picky–so very afraid of trying new foods–that she had to go to rehab.

Researchers at Duke University’s Center for Eating Disorders are exploring a new field of research they’re calling “food-neophobia“–fear of trying new foods. While most people look at a plate of food and find it appealing, even if somewhat unfamiliar, those with food-neophobia see DANGER.

Some even feel sick when they try new foods; some simply find that the food tastes bad. Needless to say, it’s a very stressful, life-limiting kind of thing–little Erin would often be at the point of extreme hunger because there would be nothing she would agree to try. Even birthday parties were unpleasant, because there was usually pizza–which Erin wouldn’t eat.

I imagine this would be a very isolating condition–hardly conducive to joyful, communal eating! (Not to mention, really distressing for parents!)

Have you known anyone who’d be a candidate for picky eater rehab?

Do you think it could occur in a culture without such endless, endless food choices?

I wonder.