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Selective Eating Disorder (SED) is a mental disorder that manifests itself by a strong feeling of dislike and sometimes even fear of eating. The patient is able to eat only one type of food (less often two or three), e.g. French fries, and at the sight of the rest, he gets a panic attack. What are the causes and other symptoms of Selective Eating Disorder? What is its treatment?

Selective Eating Disorder( Selective Eating Disorder - SED ) is a mental disorder, the essence of which is a strong feeling of reluctance to eat, fear of food. Sick people are able to eat only one or at most a few specific dishes. Anything else is fearful and aversive. The disorder usually begins around the time when a child's diet is properly expanded in the second half of the first year of life, or in early childhood (but before the age of 6).

The most famous cases of SED are those diagnosed in 20-year-old British girl Hanna Little, who has been eating only French fries from the age of 5, and her compatriots, now 20-year-old Abi Stroud, who has been feeding since the age of 10. only chips, white bread and cheese, and only a specific brand.

Selective Eating Disorder - Causes

Selective eating disorder is a mental disorder, so you should look for its causes in the psyche. As explained by Felix Economakis, the psychologist who treated Little, the cause of SED may be a traumatic eating experience (e.g., choking, severe vomiting, severe sore throat, intubation, etc.), most often from early childhood. However, the patient usually does not remember this event. This is probably the case of Litte. In turn, the alleged cause of SED at Abi Stroud is the death of her grandmother, who was badly affected by the British at the age of 10. Stroud confessed that I had stopped eating anything then, she couldn't swallow anything. Only after that, she only liked chips, white bread and cheese.

Other researchers have noted that this type of disorder often occurs in autistic children. It may also be associated with disturbances in tactile, taste and olfactory perception related to oral hyperesthesia or hypoaesthesia.

Selective Eating Disorder -symptoms

A child with a selective eating disorder refuses to eat foods with a particular smell, taste, or texture. He is capricious and purses his lips when trying to feed them, and when he eats unwanted food, he spits it out. You may even vomit. These reactions may be similar when you give your baby products that look, smell, or similar in texture. The thought of combining and mixing different tastes may also scare a child. They can even develop panic attacks in food-related situations. For example, Abi Stroud once cried when a teacher on a school trip encouraged her to eat chicken.

The patient, however, has no problems with eating the foods he / she accepts. Most often these are foods rich in carbohydrates: pizza, chips, cheese. The only exception are situations in which the food you like comes into contact with the one you are averse to. Then she also dislikes him.

The disease also has a social aspect. Your child may be reluctant to attend social gatherings at which they would be served food and may even develop symptoms of social phobia. If this disorder is not cured, the sick person as an adult may also have problems with the environment. A person with selective eating disorder usually does not eat with friends because they are afraid of being forced to eat something other than they tolerate. Even if she does go to a party where there's food, nothing comes down her throat.


Selective Eating Disorder - Dangerous Effects

A monotonous diet will inevitably lead to disorders of the child's development (malnutrition, growth inhibition) or deficiencies (anemia, protein, vitamin and micronutrient deficiencies). It can also have other negative he alth effects. Abi Stroud, who ate only French fries, white bread and cheese, weighed as much as 95 kilograms at the age of 16.

Selective eating disorder can lead to more than just nutritional deficiencies. When a child refuses to eat foods that require chewing and chewing, the consequences may be impaired oral motor skills, malocclusions and speech delays.

Selective Eating Disorder - Diagnosis

There must be persistent eating problems (usually lasting more than 1 month) for diagnosis.

Selective Eating Disorder - Treatment

Selective eating disorder usually goes away without treatment. However, if there are serious consequences of nutritional deficiencies, appropriate treatment should be initiated as soon as possible. Most oftenthe form of help used is behavioral-cognitive therapy. For example, Hanna Little was under hypnosis. After the first session, she ate a mango, and then dared to reach for pizza, which is now her new favorite dish. A young child with this disorder can easily be fed while sleeping through a bottle with a nipple.


Jagielska G., Eating disorders in infants and young children, "Przegląd Lekarski" 2009, volume 66Daily Mail

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