I'm writing because I'm worried about my uncle. I think he has an eating disorder, but I'm not sure what it is, if we should be worried, or how treatable it might be. I'm hoping someone else here finds some of this familiar and might be able to suggest some resources.
My uncle is in his forties, happily married with three children. Over the past decade he has slowly become more and more picky about his eating. Originally he didn't eat red meat, saying the taste disgusted him and made him throw up. Then he wouldn't eat cheese for the same reason.
Later he stopped eating anything with butter in it, like homemade cookies that he used to love. He would still eat packaged cookies, though, and he still does - he doesn't care if butter is in the recipe there, he says he can't taste it but if it was baked at home he can taste the butter and he finds it disgusting. Even if we make a recipe without any butter, if it would normally contain butter he still refuses to eat it.
I don't recall in what order these things happened, but now he no longer eats any meat at all - he calls himself a vegetarian, but he won't eat tofu or most other sources of protein except some beans. He won't eat cheese or milk, but he likes eggs still. I haven't listed all of the things he won't eat today because they're just too numerous - he eats almost nothing. Rice, beans, eggs, and vegetables, maybe - and he's extremely picky about the way they're prepared so that almost nobody else can prepare them the way he likes them.
For many years it was just an annoyance. His wife has been extremely tolerant throughout all of this, doing her best to cook things that he'll eat, but it's been getting harder and harder. Now it's started to affect all of his friends and family. He brings his own food to parties and people don't want to invite him to anything involving a meal because it's so awkward.
We've talked to him about it a lot and he's somewhat open about the fact that he's very picky, but I don't think he realizes how extreme it is and nobody has had a really frank honest conversation with him. I'm not really the best person to do this, I live farther away and I'm not as close to him, but I can see how it affects everyone in the family. I think a lot of people would be willing to do something to help him, but nobody knows what.
Everyone thinks it's all just in his head. I'm not sure if that's true or not, but I'm guessing that whatever started in his head has now affected his whole body. He really does show disgust when he eats something that he doesn't like, and I've heard secondhand that he has actually thrown up several times.
Anyway, that's the story - I'd love to know if this type of behavior has a name and if there is any information I can read about it online. Are there therapists that specialize in treating people with this sort of condition? What advice would you give his wife and other friends who want to invite him to dinner but don't want it to be so awkward?
Hi, wow, I'm not 100% sure what to say, but I see no one has replied...so I thought that I'd put in my two cents.
Eating disorders are a mental disorder, and I do believe he has a mental disorder. It sounds like obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and it's getting out of hand. There are lots of psychologist out there that could help him. It's just like someone who is obsessed with cleanliness. It starts of with one or two things, then it grows and grows and gets worse and worse, then all of a sudden it's out of control. He is making it all up in his head and he is convincing himself of so much that is not true. Knowing he needs help is one thing, but getting him to know he needs help is another thing. I'm sure there are professionals out there that will listen and help him.
Oh and p.s. my only advise to friends and family is to not stare or make him feel uncomfortable. Until he gets professional help, just love him and let him be. He's still your uncle and he wants to be loved, appreciated and remembered as a person, not a disorder.
This is apparently an eating disorder, and I am sure it is the following, but ina similar method. There is something called orthorexia. Where someone takes out slowly all the things that aren't nutritional, ie butter, and only eats "healthy." And his isn't totally that way, because someone with orthorexia will just eat fruit, vegetables etc and this is a very damaging type of eating disorder, but his methods sound similar too it. I would suggest he have a consult with a nutritionist and psychiatrist, as well as blood work for vitamin deficiences. And bringing his own food places is eating disordered as well. ED's affect males, females of all ages, so it's good of you to bring this up and hopefully he gets help. Good luck!