Eating is usually an activity that provides pleasure to everyone who does it. However, when an eating and eating disorder develops, things change. Anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorders are some of the best known, but they are not the only ones. Another condition is selective eating disorder, which begins during childhood and is based on eating only a series of selected foods, rejecting the others .
This disorder, also known as Arfid -‘Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder’- should not go unnoticed by parents or taken as a simple childhood whim. It is a condition that can develop and have very negative effects throughout the child’s growth, as it can extend into adolescence. Next, we show you which are the most relevant facts about this childhood selective eating disorder.
WHAT IS CHILDHOOD SELECTIVE EATING DISORDER?
This condition, which develops very early and can extend into adolescence, is characterized by a type of diet consisting of only between 5 and 10 different foods.
When the parents try to make the little one eat other things, he totally rejects it. This refusal to try new foods is known as nephobia and is not necessarily related to taste, but the rejection is caused by the shape, size or texture of the food. And it is that many times the refusal occurs even before the little one has tasted the food for the first time , so that it has not even had the opportunity to know what its flavor is.
Childhood selective eating disorder has recently been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders and tends to develop more in boys than in girls, usually accompanied by other factors such as:
- Episodes of anxiety and nerves
- Irritability and mood swings
- Slowdown in the child’s normal growth
- Weight loss and difficulties in gaining weight
The little ones who are affected by this childhood selective eating disorder usually show nutritional deficiencies with a deficiency, mainly, of vitamins, minerals and fiber . Having a very poor and little varied diet in which the foods that are mainly rejected are vegetables, fish, legumes and fruit, causes this deficiency in the body that can have a very negative impact on the growth of the little one. , both physical and neuronal and intellectual.
Hence, this behavior should not be ignored or nurtured by parents and should be resolved as quickly as possible.
CAUSES OF THE CONDITION
Currently, an exact cause that responds to the development of this disorder has not been found , but it is a condition that can respond to a wide variety of triggers . The main causes are:
- Discomfort due to one or more causes for which the child cannot find words to express it and expresses it in this way, as occurs with tantrums, crying or screaming. In these cases, it is essential to obtain psychological and psychiatric help to clarify which are these underlying problems that cause the development of the disorder.
- Problems in the child’s bond with one or both parents or with their caregivers.
- Stressful or traumatic situations.
- Feelings of abandonment on the part of the parents in which the child considers that his parents do not dedicate enough time to him. Sometimes guilty parents try to solve the solution with gifts , sometimes in the form of food that the little one enjoys.
- Overprotection of the child for which parents accept their refusals and do not try to impose their own criteria.
The main problem that derives from this disorder is at the medical level, since the little one will have a lack of nutrients that will negatively affect their normal development. However, this disease also results in other factors such as :
- Development of other eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia due to aversion to food
Ensuring that the little one has a healthy and balanced diet is possible, but as long as the parents are also willing to follow the guidelines established by the different professionals, such as:
- Do not make the mistake of preparing only those foods that your child likes . Normally, when a child has a tantrum episode to avoid consuming certain foods, parents become nervous and stressed. Therefore, to avoid these situations, they end up preparing only those foods that they know that the little one will consume without problems. This causes the child not to learn to introduce new foods into their diet and the problem is perpetuated over time.
- Parents should act patiently and calmly when the child refuses to eat. You have to avoid yelling, anger and other negative attitudes that can make the child’s reaction worse. The right thing to do is to react to the situation calmly and patiently and always being very clear about what to do and what not to do.
- Prevent the child from imitating negative adult behaviors . Young children tend to copy everything their parents do and, if they do not eat certain things either, children will most likely imitate them.
- Therapy by psychologists and psychiatrists to find the possible causes that have caused the development of childhood selective eating disorder. Find out what are the factors that cause discomfort in the child and that he expresses through these types of reactions . When solving it, it follows that, little by little, the child will change his behavior towards food.
- The child will have to gradually incorporate, with the help of their parents, new foods to their diet until they have a healthy and balanced diet that prevents them from developing nutritional problems.