National Eating Disorders Association

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Selective Eating Disorder

My 20 year old daughter has an eating disorder called Selective Eating Disorder (sometimes called ARFID). I figured this out when I read about someone who sounded like my daughter and it was called Selective Eating Disorder. As I researched it I saw that there are programs for people with this. She was always a very picky eater as she grew up but over the past 3 years I have noticed her becoming more and more selective and no longer eating some of the healthier things she was able to eat before. She can some foods. Mainly simple carbs. She no longer eats the few fruits and vegetables she ate growing up. There is only one dinner I can make that she likes. Lately she makes the same dinner for herself...every night.
Last year I told her I was concerned she had selective eating disorder and was worried about her health. To complicate things she may have polycystic ovarian syndrome with makes you crave carbs. She became very defensive and shut down. I brought it up again last week and again she became very defensive, said no doctor has diagnosed her with this and I had to stop being an internet doctor. She agreed to let me give her the name and number of a nutritionist that understands PCOS and then I promised her I would leave it in her hands and that my husband and I are always there for her when she wants to get help.
I am having such a hard time not saying anything more but think that is what I need to do. Am I doing the right thing? I am so sad.


Hi. I just came across you post. It's been there for a while and I am sorry there has been no response. It must be truly frustrating to watch your daughter have this eating disorder and behaviors which are atypical. Is she afraid to gain weight or is she just afraid of foods? I think giving her the name of a dietician specializing in PCOS is a good idea but I also think you should follow up with your daughter to see if she has made an appointment and has gone to the appointment. Eating disorders are tricky in that they hide and a once honest and sweet and kind child is taken over by ED and the lies start, becomes mean and defensive etc. but it is really the eating disorder trying to stay alive. It wants total control of its victim and a child's personality changes. I don't know if this is happening with your daughter but it often does happen.

I see that you care a lot about your daughter and her health. NEDA has a helpline you can call and a parent tool kit. I don't have the web site but it is on the main page for NEDA or you can chat with a volunteer or call a volunteer and they can give you some input. It is a scary time and I am glad you posted and asked your questions. I am just sorry it took a while for you to get a response and I hope my response was a little helpful. Your daughter sounds trapped. As one coming out of a thirty year trip into the world of eating disorders I understand the trapped feeling but I never was stuck eating just one food. I wish you the best and I hope you post again. iwanttolive


I am sorry to hear about the struggles your daughter is having. I can understand your worry. Before my daughter went into the hospital for ED, she also ate just a few things and they had to be prepared a certain way. She is doing so well now. It has been a few years and she eats most things. There is hope.
I am so glad that you and your husband are there for her. Have you considered going to a councilor for yourself? I put off going to a councilor, I was so overwhelmed and just surviving moment to moment. It made a huge difference to go and talk to someone who's main focus was me and what I needed. I was able to come to terms that I could not fi this or make my daughter better. It helped me and in turn helped my daughter a lot.

Selective Eating Disorder

I feel so,happy that I have stumbled across this today!! My daughter is 16 and was diagnosed with PCOS almost a year ago, I had no idea that she also has this selective eating disorder, but everything I read points directly to it!! Just the smell of certain foods will cause her gag reflex to kick in, she cannot go,out with friends to eat because she is embarrassed about her eating habits. Currently, she only eats about 5 foods, they are unhealthy, because of her PCOS she is overweight and unhappy. I have currently noticed that she hardly has the energy to stay awake past 8 p.m. In the past nutritionist have not helped us, because she wants to try the new foods, it is just she literally cannot. I feel lost and at my wits end!! I did find the name of a counselor just this morning that I think may be able to help, I have left a message. As a parent, I am glad I am not alone, and I hope your daughter is doing better and getting the help she needs!! I am praying for some healing in my daughter as well.