Picky Eating or Eating Disorder in Adults

Picky eater at breakfast

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

When it comes to picky eating, this is something that is typically associated with children. While everyone usually has a list of food they dislike or do not prefer over other foods, picky eating can be a problematic issue that adults deal with as well. Some adults may find that picky eating is something that developed in childhood and carried into adulthood, while others may have developed aversions or dislikes to foods in their later years.

Understanding the Challenges Adults Face With Picky Eating

Adults that struggle with picky eating may deal with their own unique set of struggles and challenges when it comes to food and nourishing their body. Multiple reasons can influence picky eating in the adult, including motor and developmental disorders, traumatic experiences associated with eating, anxiety disorders/phobias and more. Picky eating may also be a simple matter of preference, childhood experiences pertaining to eating and more.

However, it is easy to misunderstand an adult who is dealing with picky eating, as this is often related to childhood. Many adults who deal with picky eating may feel shameful, embarrassed or criticized about their food preferences, and it can be challenging to eating in public places or in social events that involve food. Picky eating in adults, depending on the severity, can also contribute to nutrient deficiencies, which can also become problematic if not adequately addressed.

Picky Eating or Eating Disorder?

upset young manIn some individuals, picky eating or selective food choices can be indicative of a more serious problem, such as an eating disorder. Adults who have severe disruptions in their eating habits, preoccupation with food, body and weight issues, and sometimes fluctuations with weight.

These signs are indication of more than picky eating. If you are concerned about an individual in your life who may be dealing with either extreme picky eating or an eating disorder, be sure to express your concerns in a loving and gentle way. Seeking out professional help can be invaluable for the adult dealing with any type of feeding issue.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What do you think are some of the misconceptions about picky eating in adults?


Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 22, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com

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