When is a weirdness to food more than fussy eating?
We all know that it is common for children to go through the stage of “I’m not eating any green foods” or “I don’t eat peas”. And trying new foods can be scary even for an adult. most picky or fussy eating only lasts for a while and normally corrects itself.
But when do you have to become concerned?
Sensory issues could contribute to picky eating and so does anxiety. Sometimes it is a certain texture, smell or colour and sometimes it is the sound it makes when they eat it (hearing the crunch from inside instead of an outside source). Sometimes your child will eat smooth and crunchy textures but not a food that has both like cucumber.
There are various techniques and suggestions to help children with fussy eating habits, like making food together, eating together at a table, no TV or tablets and rewarding your child when he does take that first bite.
But when is it more?
Article from Autism Research Institute: The Picky Eater
There is a condition called Avoidance/ Restrictive Food Intake disorder, which is officially listed in the DSM-V of diagnostic tools for professionals.
In the DSM-V ARFID is classified as :
An eating or feeding disturbance (e.g., apparent lack of interest in eating or food; avoidance based on the sensory characteristics of food; concern about aversive consequences of eating) as manifested by persistent failure to meet appropriate nutritional and/or energy needs associated with one (or more) of the following:
- Significant weight loss (or failure to achieve expected weight gain or faltering growth in children).
- Significant nutritional deficiency.
- Dependence on enteral feeding or oral nutritional supplements.
- Marked interference with psychosocial functioning.
Other signs and symptoms:
Behavioral and psychological signs of ARFID
- Dramatic weight loss
- Dresses in layers to hide weight loss or stay warm
- Complains of constipation, abdominal pain, cold intolerance, lethargy, and/or excess energy
- Consistent, vague gastrointestinal complaints (“upset stomach”, feels full, etc) around mealtimes that have no known cause
- Postpuberty female loses menstrual period
- Dramatic restriction in types or amount of food eaten
- Will only eat certain textures of food
- Fears of choking or vomiting
- Lack of appetite or interest in food
- Limited range of preferred foods that become narrower over time (i.e., picky eating that progressively worsens).
- No body image disturbance or fear of weight gain
Physical signs of ARFID
Because both anorexia and ARFID involve an inability to meet nutritional needs, both disorders have similar physical signs and medical consequences.
- Stomach cramps, other non-specific gastrointestinal complaints (constipation, acid
- reflux, etc.)
- Menstrual irregularities—missing periods or only having a period while on hormonal
- contraceptives (this is not considered a “true” period)
- Difficulties concentrating
- Abnormal laboratory findings (anaemia, low thyroid and hormone levels, low potassium, low blood cell counts, slow heart rate)
- Feeling cold all the time
- Sleep problems
- Dry skin
- Dry and brittle nails
- Fine hair on the body
- Thinning of hair on the head, dry and brittle hair (lanugo)
- Muscle weakness
- Cold, mottled hands and feet or swelling of feet
- Poor wound healing
- Impaired immune functioning
But recently there have been several articles which suggested that picky eating could be more than a state of mind, emotional or the senses. The study suggested that picky eating could be in your genes.
In your gene? Really? How?
The following articles follow the trial of this thinking:
- Why Are You a Picky Eater? Blame Genes, Brains and Breast Milk – Smithsonian.com
- Why not liking greens could be in your genes: Scientists discover two ‘picky eating’ mutations that may explain why people don’t like certain foods – Dailymail.co.uk
The gene responsible is TAS2R38 – which was associated with a limited dietary variety and the other called CA6 which being out-of-control during mealtimes. This research was published in the Journal of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics by Natasha Cole. The paper was called: Variants in Chemosensory Genes Are Associated with Picky Eating Behavior in Preschool-Age Children – Background/Aims: Picky eating is prevalent among preschoolers and is associated with the risk of both being underweight and overweight. Although differences in taste perception may be due to genetic variation, it is unclear whether these variations are related to picky eating behaviour. The aim of this study was to investigate the association of 6 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 5 candidate genes related to chemosensory perception with picky eating behaviour and adiposity in a cohort of preschool-aged children. Methods: Parents of 2- to 5-year-old non-Hispanic white preschoolers (n = 153) responded to survey questions on demographics, and information regarding their child’s breastfeeding history and picky eating behavior. Height and weight were measured to calculate body mass index (BMI) z-scores using standard growth charts, and saliva was collected for genotyping. Generalized linear models were used to examine associations between picky eating behaviour and BMI z-scores with genetic variation. Results: When controlling for child age, sex, breastfed status, and parent education level, SNPs in TAS2R38(rs713598) and CA6 (rs2274327) were associated with picky eating behaviour in children. There was no association between SNPs and BMI z-scores. Conclusion: Genes related to chemosensory perception may play a role in children’s picky eating behaviour. © 2017 S. Karger AG, Basel.
But there is another “condition” that could influence your child’s behaviour towards food – [simple_tooltip content=’the fear of eating new or unfamiliar foods’]Neophobia[/simple_tooltip]
Autistic children does often struggle with food. If there is any suspicion that there might be a problem it is best to speak to your child’s doctor.
We have an appointment in the new year, we will keep you posted.