Picky eating doesn’t automatically mean mental illness: Dr. doesn’t think it should be in the psychiatrist’s official manual

(by Andrea Macpherson, NEWS1130)

 

Extremely picky eaters may have a mental illness. But not everyone agrees this should be included in a psychiatrist’s official manual.

 

“One of the things that I have concerns about is our tendency to sometimes over pathologize what may be normal behaviours,” explains Clinical Psychologist Dr. Joti Samra.

 

Samra says these behaviours exist in up to 20 per cent of the population and not all need professional help to deal with it.

 

“[It should be treated as a disorder if] it starts to interfere with function in some significant way. Significant overwhelming distress and also impairment in some important area of function — such as social or occupational function.”

 

She notes a lot of people have issues various tastes, textures or colours. “We have to look at things on a case-by-case basis. Really, we could take any kind of what may be normal behaviour and say at some point it could become problematic.”

 

“There are going to be foods that we like or don’t like, or don’t react to. We need to be cautious if we take that alone and say ‘That means it’s an illness,'” she explains.

 

The criteria of “Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder” includes someone not eating, showing little interest in eating, or eats only a limited number of foods.

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