Disorder of Selective Food (rejection of foods): what is it, symptoms and treatment

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Food refusal may be caused by a disorder called selective feeding disorder, which normally develops in childhood when the child only eats the same foods, thus rejecting all other options outside of his/her acceptance employer, and, in addition, have little appetite and lack of interest in new foods. In this way, it is common that the child always wants to eat the same foods, rejecting new foods and making it difficult to eat in restaurants or at other people’s homes.

On many occasions, this disorder is seen by the parents as an antojo of a spoiled child or a whim to eat, but this can be a disorder, and the child needs to be evaluated by a pediatrician and a psychologist to carry out an adequate diagnosis. , with the purpose of which, with the treatment, the child achieves a more varied and nutritionally balanced diet.

Food rejection is common in children between 2 and 6 years of age, reason why, parents are used to tantrums, delays in eating, attempts to negotiate the food that will be consumed, getting up from the table during food and chopping throughout the day. However, when the child shows this type of behavior constantly and always eats the same foods, in addition to this phase, an evaluation with the doctor and psychologist is indicated.

Main signs and symptoms

To identify this disorder, it is necessary to pay attention to the following symptoms:

  • El niño always eats the same foods, eating only 15 or less different foods;
  • Avoid whole food groups, such as the dairy and dairy products group or all fruits;
  • Open the mouth with strength to avoid ingesting any different food in any way;
  • There are tantrums at mealtimes, making it a stressful time for the whole family;
  • The child may experience nausea and vomiting when faced with the need to eat new foods;
  • El niño may prefer only cold or hot foods;
  • The child may prefer foods with a mild flavor, such as those with a light color (milk, bread or pasta);
  • In certain cases, it is possible to observe a preference for certain food brands;
  • The child may not tolerate the smell of a certain food, making him or her withdraw from the kitchen or living room and experience nausea;
  • Some children may be anxious about food, especially if it is easy to ensuciar themselves, as for example, meats with salsas due to the requirement of the mother during the child’s childhood that he does not get ensucia.

These symptoms can persist until the adult age when the illness is not properly diagnosed, causing tension and constant discussions in the family during meals.

The diagnosis of this eating disorder is based on the clinical history of the symptoms presented by the child, which should be taken to the pediatrician to assess the severity of the food withdrawal. Keeping a food diary for 1 week, in addition to the feelings felt when eating food, is a good way to start understanding the problem.

Likewise, the doctor will also be able to determine the presence of other problems that can cause food refusal, such as difficulties in chewing and swallowing, food allergies and gastrointestinal problems. The child does not always present low weight or development problems, but it can be difficult in the school, with a poor school performance, apart from dry skin and hair and weak nails, thanks to the lack of nutrients due to a poorly varied diet.

What causes selective feeding disorder

The exaggerated and persistent food refusal can be caused by psychological problems, social phobias and taste alterations, such as hypergeusia, also known as super scavengers or super tasters.

Other problems such as the difficulty in chewing or swallowing, as well as feeling unwell or pain in the stomach can also influence this disorder.

How is the treatment performed?

The treatment so that the child can eat at all, is usually carried out through medical follow-up and psychological treatment, where strategies are created to improve the food environment and encourage the child to taste new foods through cognitive-behavioral therapy. Some strategies that can help to vary infant feeding are:

  • Reduce stress and discussions during meals, promoting a calm and peaceful environment, without punishing the child for not wanting to eat;
  • Do not give up serving new foods for the child, always putting on the plate for at least one food that the child likes and eats normally, which could have been chosen by the child;
  • Offer the same food by varying the form of preparation, presentation and texture. For example: offering papa asada, papa hervida en rodajas or en pedazos covered with olive oil, which is not exactly the same as the puree of papas;
  • Offer new foods and eat them in front of the child, showing them that they are tasty, because this habit favors acceptance on the part of the child;
  • Trusting the child’s choices and leaving it free to eat the amount you want during meals;
  • Show similar characteristics between some foods that the child likes and other new ones so that they dare to try them, as for example: the calabaza has the same color as the zanahoria, the flavor of the col is similar to the spinach.

See the following video for other tips that can help the child eat better:

In addition, in case the child has problems in the development of mastication, speech, swallowing or gastrointestinal problems, follow-up with professionals such as speech therapists and occupational therapists will also be necessary, as these implement specific techniques that can be used to improve the child’s experience with food.

When should you see the doctor

The disorder of selective feeding can bring serious problems to the child, especially the delay in growth and development due to lack of nutrients and adequate calories. Therefore, the child could be a little smaller and lighter than he should have, although this is not always a feature that calls for a lot of attention from the priests. The lack of vitamins and minerals can also cause bleeding gingivales, weakness in the bones, dry eyes and skin problems.

In addition, the excess of the same nutrient obtained by the excessive consumption of the same food, can also lead to health problems such as comezón, fatigue, weakness and pain in the joints. For this reason, if these symptoms are present, it may be necessary to carry out a blood test to identify the deficit or excess of some nutrient, and medication may also be required.

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Consult a Doctor | Translated by User2937

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Isenção de responsabilidade – (versão em português): Este conteúdo foi preparado com base em informações de pesquisas, publicações adicionais ou no trabalho de tradução/verificação de um editor voluntário deste conselho web. Este é um serviço sem fins lucrativos. É altamente recomendável que todos os detalhes e informações publicadas sejam verificadas cuidadosamente. Nunca permitimos recomendações de medicamentos, bulas ou qualquer orientação sobre medicamentos. Nunca permitimos a política partidária como base para checagem. Para mais informações, leia nossos termos.

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