Selective Eating Disorder (SED) has been called “an American problem”, defended by the reasoning that living in a land of abundance has created a society privileged to be choosy. SED is not limited to the United States. This blog and its small, but growing following has touched parents and adults in the UK, Belgium, Ireland, Greece, South Africa, Australia and is honoured to share this post from a selective eating adult from France.
“There was once a very difficult little girl, say most people who knew me. A real pain in the ass. Pain in the ass to the point of always refusing to eat from the menus of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Mexican … because there will be nothing that I can eat. Pain in the ass to the point of secretly hoping for a pasta dish when we go eat at somebody’s home, or there would not be anything that I could eat from what was being served. The kind of pain in the ass that servers always look through asking if I am sure it’s enough when I order my plate of French fries.
And then one day, I was able to give it a name. A label, one I store it in a box with six percent of the French population. Six percent. This is nothing, but for me it’s huge. Today, I have food neophobia. And I want to heal.
I’m Marie, a French 25 year old girl. Since I was 2 years old, all I ate was pasta, rice, French fries and yogurts.
I hadn’t been diagnosed with anything else than a “picky eater” for 24 years. One day, a friend of my parents, a GP, spoke with my mother, and thought he might have a treatment for me.
During my consult with him, he wanted to know if my food disorder was “mental anorexia” (absence of appetite as opposed to fighting hunger to lose weight) or food phobia. He considered my disorder to be OCD. I experience intense anxiety when faced with unknown food.
The good news is OCD can be treated, with quite good results, he said. He prescribed an antidepressant that I took for a few months. At first, I wanted to try some new foods. The will was there but I couldn’t bring myself to eat them. The pill took away the anxiety and I was able to taste new foods. After 5 months, I stopped the treatment because there were a lot of side effects with the antidepressant, but the most difficult task was done : I knew I was able to try new foods.
The first step was completed several years ago. The second step is to want to try new foods. Currently, I am working on the third step : getting to like the new foods I tasted, and find new foods I want to try.”
Marie blogs about food neophobia at Le Blog de Leeloo and her personal journey to conquer it. Some entries have been translated from the original French text into English. Reprinted and translated with permission from the author.