Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I'm not alone! "Selective eating disorder" is real!

I've been stressing so much about my food thing lately, to the point where I am nearly crazy.  And then yesterday a flurry of online articles came out about a new study at Duke University on this very subject.  Apparently there are A LOT of people who eat EXACTLY like me, who are adults.
A taskforce (is) studying how to categorize eating disorders for the new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, due out in 2013, is considering recognizing for the first time a disorder to be called "selective eating" that could apply to adults as well as children. The DSM, a common psychiatric reference book, would currently lump picky eaters into a classification of eating disorder "not otherwise specified," a catchall category for people who don't meet the criteria for a major disorder. 
Duke's new study, Food F.A.D. Study, or the Finicky Eating in Adults study, is available to take online (you know I already did it!) and takes maybe 5 minutes.  It does not ask specific questions about what types of food you eat, only about broad patterns of behavior. 

Marla Lopez, a 51-year-old real estate investor in Idaho, says she faces the embarrassment of her condition every time she attends business meetings, where she often only eats bread...."The biggest frustration is that people don't understand and think that I'm just looking for attention," said Lopez. "I'd give up everything to be able to eat normally." 
Yes!  YES!  I am not alone.  I might have some kind of crazy OCD/anxiety thing underneath (and Duke's survey asks about that, so they see it too) but I am not the only one.  I am not lazy. I am not a "baby" who refuses willfully to eat properly.
Picky eaters (I now like the term "selective eaters") have long puzzled clinicians and medical experts because their behaviors don't fit the definition of a traditional eating disorder, in which people aim to achieve a certain body weight. But picky eaters' diets can be so limited that their food preferences interfere with their social and professional relationships, which is one of the hallmarks of a true disorder.
This weekend, on Saturday, I had not one but TWO food-related confrontations. The end result was that I had no lunch at all and ate dinner alone while my husband and a bunch of people went out to a restaurant I hate (after telling me a list of other places, most of which I'd eat at, were the options--he did not bring up the final choice until it was a done deal).
Unlike people with anorexia or bulimia, picky eaters don't seem to make food choices based on calorie content. They aren't necessarily skinny or obsessed with looking a certain way. Researchers don't know yet what drives the behavior, but they say textures and smell can account for a picky eater's limited diet. Some will only eat foods with one consistent texture or one taste, leading some medical experts to speculate that picky eaters have some obsessive-compulsive tendencies.....Picky eaters tend to gravitate to certain foods, including blander products that are often white or pale colored, like plain pasta or cheese pizza. For reasons that aren't clear, almost all adult picky eaters like French fries and often chicken fingers, health experts say.
OMG.  And they didn't even interview me for this.
One picky eater describes foods that don't appeal to her as if they are inedible objects. "You wouldn't put a handful of grass in your mouth and chew it up," says the 29-year-old. "I feel the same way about spaghetti."  
I love spaghetti.  But I totally get it.  I am constantly trying to explain to people that asking me to eat a new food is like asking me to eat a pencil or something.  It's in the "NOTFOOD" category, why would I eat it?
It's so strange.  These articles help me not at all (except hooking me up with the Duke study).  But I feel a sense of relief.  I might be crazy, but it's not unique and I'm not alone.

selective eating disorder
selective eating disorder
(WSJ screen print; ABC screen print)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supertaster



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Thursday, August 05, 2010

the fish thing

Imagine you are sitting in a restaurant you like. It doesn't have to be fancy. It could be McDonald's. The point is that you are enjoying your food.
Then someone wheels a trash can full of rotten smelly food and garbage nearby and parks it a couple of feet away.  The smell permeates the area where you are sitting.
Do you feel like eating?  Or do you lose your appetite and want to gag and leave the area?
To me, fish is garbage.   Fish smell is rotten fish on the beach.  Fish smell is garbage.  Fish is not food.  I wasn't raised in a house where people ate fish.  My experience is seeing and smelling dead fish at the beach or at a boat dock.   If I am eating and there is fish smell (or even if I'm not eating and there's fish smell) it's trash smell, it's a disgusting smell, repulsive.  It's a "hurry up and close the bag, the trash stinks and it's turning my stomach" smell. It is not a "yummy let's eat" smell.
I honestly don't think that can be cured.  That is not part of my OCD or my anxiety or anything else.  It is hard wired into me from my childhood.   The smell of rotten garbage makes me feel nauseated.  Fish is a rotten garbage smell.  I know there are freegans who eat from garbage cans.  I will never be one of them.


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I am used up. I am broken.

I just had a long, tearful talk with a friend. She hasn't seen me in a while. She said I look close to collapse, that she has never seen me like this. She pulled a lot of thoughts out of me that I didn't even know were in my head.
I have come to realize that right now there is nothing left in me. I can't help anyone else. I can't do anything for anyone anymore. And no one will take care of me. I don't know what's going to happen.
My mind will not shut off.  Everything in my head is bad.  There is nothing good that I can think of.  Debt, bankruptcy, lack of a car, lack of a job, lack of progress on my weight loss.  I literally start to shake when I let all these thoughts come up.  I read recently that swimming in chlorinated pools that people pee in causes bladder cancer. I know the pool where I swim is filthy because if I get water in my eyes I get pink eye.  And it's full of children in diapers.  So there's pee.  And chlorine.  So now my worry in there is constant.  Is that kid peeing? Am I getting cancer right this second?   I'm in that pool 90-110 minutes straight 4-5 times a week.  That's up to 550 minutes (over 9 hours!) a week soaking in carcinogenic substances.  But if I don't work out in the pool my legs swell and I'll go crippled.  So, choices.  Cancer?  Crippled?
I'm also getting really tired of people telling me I eat badly and that I eat too much and I need to grow up and get over my eating disorder and stop being a baby and if I just worked out a little more and ate less I'd lose weight. I'm eating THE SAME as I was a year ago and working out MORE and losing LESS so WTF.
My friend who was over tonight works at a mental health clinic.  She said I have some kind of massive underlying pathology that is depression, anxiety or both, and that it is manifesting as an eating disorder. If I don't get treatment I'm going to blow.  Yes I am going in October for the virtual band and other therapy, but I'm not going to last that long, I need help now. I am tired of therapists saying "Yeah, you aren't perfect and you have some problems but you're coping really well, you're well-adjusted, you don't need therapy."  I need something damn it.  Another friend who was a psych major said that the problem is that my depression and anxiety are not unfounded.  My life is depressing and anyone in it would feel anxiety over my continued existence.  
I am going to Yale next week.  In 3 months I've lost 2 lbs.  The last 3 month interval I lost 3 lbs.  That's 5 lbs in 6 months.  Something's wrong.   I have 139 lbs to go, that's still a whole person.   The metformin's new formula should have kicked in by now if it was going to help me lose weight; obviously it isn't going to do anything like that.   I don't know if it's the birth controls pills for the PCOS that are holding me back.
All I know right now is that my life sucks, I am desperately unhappy, there is something really wrong with me mentally or emotionally or physically or all 3 and I need some help.  Chemical help, therapy help, something.  Because soon the day will come where I don't get out of bed at all and then I'm rushing down that slope to weighing 600 lbs and being cut through the wall on the whale stretcher.  I can still feel that possible future for me, still so close I can touch it. I don't want it.  But I don't know how to stop it anymore.  My future right now is death.  I can't even cry about it because I don't feel there is any bargaining chip left to change the road I'm on.


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