Severe Food Aversions

By October 30, 2012

How do you deal with severe food aversions and just not liking to eat? For me it’s not a weight issue at all! EDNOS is probably the closest I’ll ever come to a diagnosis. It’s more neurotic than anything else. My diet has been very limited since childhood. As a child I routinely only ate 2-3 different foods for months on end. If given the choice of eating nothing or eating what was served, I chose to not eat. Unfortunately, I learned by age 10 that being hungry went away and I can tolerate not eating. I’ve suffered from malnutrition several times from my teens on. I’ve lived on bread and water only. On crackers, etc. I have food aversions to the extreme. I do not eat food cooked in others homes. Anything stored in plastic. Anything cooked on non stick cookware. I don’t eat food that contains any chemicals or additives. I don’t eat any condiments or sauces. I generally only like food that is dry with little to no smell. I’m very texture sensitive. Anything grainy, mushy, runny, lumpy, etc I cannot eat. If the fridge is not clean and organized very neatly it overwhelms me. The pantry is the same way. Smelling food often makes me nauseous. I tend to feel better if I do not eat. Everything has to be “clean” as far as its ingredients, cooked with stainless steel, stored and eaten only on glass, and not offend any of my food texture/smell/appearance concerns. I’ve been diagnosed with mild obsessive compulsive disorder in the past and I wonder if this could be why food is such a problem for me. I have a 4 yr old girl and it really bothers me to think of the example I’m setting. She asks me why I’m not eating lunch. I suggest to my husband that he eat dinner out so I don’t have to eat anything. I lie and say I’ve eaten when I haven’t. It’s not about weight (I’d actually love to gain 15 lbs) I get hungry, I look in the fridge/pantry, feel sick, and either grab a cracker or just stay hungry. I rarely eat before I’m feeling dizzy and faint. This gets worse and better from time to time but is really bad now. If I’m under any kind of stress, pressure, or anything I just cannot eat. I’m not unhappy with myself or anything. Food is just sooooo icky to me and always has been. I’d just be in heaven if I never had to eat again. I did well with a liquid diet in the past but now I’m “dairy free” so that’s not as good of an option as it was 10 yrs ago… What can I do? – Michelle

Dear Michelle,

Your approach to nutrition is lacking balance. Human beings need basic nutrition in order for their brain and other vital organs to function. I hear that you do not have a specific weight related concern but have a large amount of man-made rules regarding food, food preparation, and eating. Certainly, just from reading the submission it sounds as if there is an obsessive compulsive component to your life and food. Second, there may possibly be a Sensory Integrative (SI) issue. Both have a kind of neurological involvement and can respond to treatment.

Role modeling is a significant means by which we raise children. I do believe you must concentrate on finding a treatment regime that allows you to (1) consume more foods then crackers, etc., (2) to eat before you are dizzy and faint, (3) to be able to eat family meals and demonstrate proper nutrition to your child. By living with your current approach you are missing significant aspects of living: feeling energetic, tasting wonderful foods, gaining appropriate amounts of weight that lead to good living, and eating with your family.

I encourage you to seek a second opinion regarding your possible obsessive compulsive tendencies. I would encourage you to see a psychiatrist familiar with OCD and disordered eating. There is a spectrum of new medications that have helped many persons with a neurologically based obsessive compulsive disorder experience relief.

Only after a second opinion and receiving treatment that gets at how the brain is functioning around food, you may want to consider a consultation with an occupational therapist trained in sensory integration issues.

An O.T. trained in S.I. therapy has experience with feeding issues associated with aversions (not liking grainy, mushy, runny, lumpy or various other textures). There is a therapy regimen that can help food sensitive persons. Often S.I. needs appear in infancy/toddler/ childhood but they may be able to assist you as well.

Please do not shrug off a second opinion. The behaviors you described in the letter are significant and really need to be addressed. There is a higher level of freedom and good living available for you.