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Picky Eating Disorder Specialist, Nutrition Therapist and Treatment in the St. Louis Area, Missouri, and Illinois

Get Treatment for Picky Eating Disorder from ED Dietitian Specialists
Help your child become an adventurous eater. Make mealtime enjoyable (no more food battles). Get the tools and strategies to introduce new foods without causing stress. Share responsibility and overcome picky eating disorder.

What is picky eating disorder?

Picky eating, which is also known as selective eating or food neophobia, consists of limited food variety, reluctance to try new foods, and aversions to certain tastes, textures, or even colors of food. Picky eating is a common part of childhood that usually gets better on its own as kids grow up. It can worry parents, but pediatric dietitians and pediatricians often help address it with advice and nutrition tips. However, in some cases, picky eating can lead to a feeding or eating disorder in children.

If you are struggling with mealtimes and feeding, we can provide you with the tools and strategies you need to help your child overcome picky eating. Recovery is possible.

Cookies on a Plate

Is picky eating an eating disorder?

Picky eating can develop into a feeding disorder or a form of Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). If left untreated, it can be severe, leading to compromised growth, nutritional deficiencies, and significant distress for the person suffering when it comes to social gatherings. 

ARFID is a new diagnosis included in the DSM-5 of feeding and eating disorders. It is characterized by "extreme picky eating." If you are unsure as to whether your child is experiencing picky eating or ARFID, it's important to consult with your pediatrician or a pediatric dietitian nutritionist. 

Get the help and treatment you need with family-based treatment, online or in-person outpatient eating disorder nutrition therapy.

Orange on orange

What is the difference between a picky eater and food aversion?

Both picky eating and food aversions involve selective eating habits; however, they are two different eating behaviors commonly diagnosed and recognized in children. (Though some adults may experience them as well).

  • Picky Eating: This is a common behavior in children. Some kids naturally have heightened sensitivity to taste, smell, and texture. Others pick up picky eating habits from their parents if they're picky eaters themselves. Picky eating can become more common when parents use punishment, bribes, or rewards to control their children's eating habits. Fear not! This is often temporary and can improve with easy-to-implement feeding and eating strategies.

  • Food AversionsThese are stronger and a more intense form of food rejection. A child with food aversions may even fear certain foods. These dislikes and fears can relate to sensory characteristics. Also, they might be a response to a negative experience with food (choking or gut health issues). They may be related to an underlying medical or psychological issue and could be a sign of a serious feeding or eating disorder like ARFID.

Both eating concerns should be further evaluated and treated sooner than later by a registered dietitian.

Therapy

Is there therapy for picky eaters?

Absolutely! Picky eating is frustrating for the person suffering and their family. It can lead to meal time battles, anxiety and stress for all. Nutrition therapy can play a vital role in helping the patient or parent to overcome their fears and concerns around specific foods and feel confident in feeding their child. 

Can a nutritionist help picky eaters?

Parenting can be overwhelming. Feeding and eating, mealtimes and snacks can be a cause of major stress in families. Working with a pediatric dietitian nutritionist can help ease the tension during mealtimes, provide you and your family with the necessary framework and strategies to introduce new foods outside of "safe foods", and improve well-being, and, when aplicable, embrace the division of responsibility in feeding. This is what we can do:

  • Assessment: We will evaluate your, or your child's, eating habits and identify potential underlying causes for picky eating.

  • Create a Personalized PlanIntroducing new foods is hard. We can create a plan to gradually introduce new foods and expand, and improve, your, or your child's, diet

  • Offer Practical Tips and StrategiesMake mealtime more enjoyable. We will guide parents and caregivers on how to create a supportive mealtime environment. Take the pressure off of feeding and eating!

  • Nutrition EducationTeaching the importance of a varied diet, including different food groups and nutrients, is a cornerstone of medical nutrition therapy.

  • Monitor and AdjustBy tracking your, or your child's, response to the strategies, we can adjust the plans as needed, addressing feeding challenging or issues affecting the eating behavior.

  • Heal Your Relationship with Food and BodyFood and mealtime and how they relate to body is key for a lifetime of health. We can help you and your family develop positivie attitudes toward new foods and adventurous eating.

  • Collaborate with Other Healthcare ProfessionalsAs part of your healthcare team, we can work with your pediatrian, therapist, and others to address additional concerns or underlying conditions.

Does picky eating go away?

Picky eating can be a normal phase of developmental stages, especially in toddlers, but it can also continue into adulthood and become rather frustrating for those suffering, in addition to concerning for family members. If it prolongs for an extended period of time, we highly recommend making an appointment with one of our dietitians to expand on food intake sooner than later.

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