Oklahoma Boy Lives With An Unusual Eating Disorder
Everyone has heard of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder – the most common forms of eating disorders. But, eating disorders can actually take many different forms, some of which are less common than others.
A young boy from Oklahoma City named Michael is struggling with one particularly unique form of an eating disorder, as KFOR recently reported.
Plenty of nine-year-olds are picky eaters, but Michael isn’t your typical picky eater. According to his mother, Sandra Jackson, “He literally gets sick at the sight of food.”
Even foods most nine-year-olds love like birthday cake, cheeseburgers, and chicken nuggets are off the menu because Michael has been diagnosed with neophobia – characterized by intense fear of anything new or unfamiliar.
“If I taste it, it will start to hurt my stomach. It will start to hurt,” says Michael.
“If you buy his regular Cheez-Its with anything extra, like letters, he won’t eat it. It has to be the plain original Cheez-Its. Smell, texture and even sight…a lot of things he won’t touch even if you bribe him,” Sandra tells KFOR.
Even movies that prominently feature food, like “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” can trigger Michael’s anxiety and make him feel sick.
“He can’t watch it. Scared of the food. He’ll tell me ‘I’m sorry mom. I want to eat. I don’t want to die. I want to live and things like that. I’m trying,’” says Sandra.
While neophobia is not inherently an eating disorder, the form it takes in Michael is leading to behaviors that fit the criteria for avoidant/restrictive intake disorder, an eating disorder based on the avoidance of foods.
While Michael’s story itself is unique, his case isn’t all that different from the millions of others who live with eating disorders.
Dr. Amy Middleman, a specialist in pediatric eating disorders, says most eating disorders are linked to anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. Through treatment, there is hope for Michael and others who live with eating disorders to recover to lead normal lives.
“It’s estimated that 20 percent of children have some element of picky eating to the point it interferes with function. It is common,” Middleman said. “There is absolutely hope. We treat patients with these issues all the time. And, the prognosis is terrific.”
While the road to recovery from an eating disorder can be difficult, Jackson is hopeful that soon her son can overcome his disorder so that he can live life to the fullest.
If you think you or someone you know may be living with an eating disorder, give us a call at (888) 298-4673. We can answer any questions you have and find the right treatment plan for you.