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Selective dining syndrome refers to the nutrition where there is an inadequate food variety. That diet which is limited to between five and ten foods, and, in addition, correlates with rejection to try new products (designated as neophobia disorder), as explains it the psychotherapist and responsible for the area of knowledge management and research at the Institut de Trastorns Alimentaris (ITA), Toni Grau.
Sometimes, the rejection of certain foods focuses on certain textures (for example the fibrous), which excludes diet large families of foods such as fruits, vegetables and vegetables. Products followed closely, in terms of avoidance, by the fish and vegetables. On other occasions, this rejection is directed toward the outer appearance of certain foods (shape, color, size...) and not so much to their taste.

Profile of the selective dining

The selective dining syndrome has been described in children, although there are already some studies with adolescents. As for adults, the available scientific literature is non-existent.
This disorder is most often occur in boys than girls (with a ratio of four boys for each girl). Although a characteristic profile is not defined, these kids tend to have problems of social avoidance, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive traits, low adaptation to change and novelty. Factors which are, mostly, personality traits, and that it therefore remain over time, while also remaining in adulthood, as describes the psychotherapist Toni Grau.
So far, this disease was classified within the diagnostic category 'Food intake of infancy, or childhood disorder', unless there is a specific category for the selective dining room syndrome. However, "the next diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-V) provides for their inclusion as a new diagnostic category: 'Avoidant/restrictive Eating Disorder', explains the expert of the ITA."

Negative effects of the syndrome of the selective dining

The main consequences of the syndrome of the selective dining are derived from nutritional deficiencies of a restricted diet, and more taking into account that avoided major foodstuffs are those rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber (vegetables, fruits, legumes, fish...), indispensable for development. "The lack of these nutrients can be attended with problems of growth, lethargy, and poor concentration. In this sense, has been a decrease of between 13 and 15 points in IQ of selective eaters", concludes the psychotherapist Toni Grau.
As for the psychological part, Grau explained that these children have a higher risk of developing an eating disorder in later growth stages; Since certain traits of the personality that combines also they are present in these pathologies and who share the problem with the power supply.
In addition, selective eaters and their caregivers is often social avoidance of those events in which the limited diet of the child do not can be developed normally (retreats, trips, birthdays, to sleep at friends house...). "This refusal by the food hinders the proper process of socialization with people surrounding the child and the world", explains the psychotherapist. In addition, "tantrums, crying, and other disruptive behaviors increase conflicts in the family," concludes Grau.
To summarize, the symptoms of the dining room are selective, at the same time, consequence (expression of discomfort) and cause (conflict avoidance), concludes responsible for the area of knowledge management and research of the ITA.

Causes of the syndrome of the selective dining

Although there is not a single and clear principle that do emerge the selective dining syndrome, if found related causes problems on the link that is created between the child and the caregiver. "Babies, to not be able to express themselves with words, use other forms of communication (waving arms, cry, scream, throw or spit meal...)." These behaviors are stressful for caregivers, to avoid these behaviors opting to prepare and give only the least problematic foods. "With this attitude, the initiative of introducing new foods is lost and is perpetuated the circle that the child does not want to eat anything else is not known", explains the psychotherapist Toni Grau.
In addition, the stress that carer suffers to the nervousness of the child makes that the link between them is not suitable and it impact on the trust relationship to be created between the two, "still one factor more so there is rejection of the baby before any food or thing that caregiver offers. Making thus the vicious circle that we spoke of earlier", continuing the psychotherapist.
Although not everything is product of a lack of link between the child and his caregiver, as all the authors experts on the subject, the selective dining syndrome follows a multicausal model. This disorder can become "a way of expressing the personality", as says Grau. This way, the novelty rejection or stiffness (characteristic of obsesivo-compulsivas persons), presented through the repudiation to the meal, are brought to light "through the primitive features of the power", says the expert.

How anticipating the emergence of the syndrome of the selective dining

A simple "I don't want" or an "I don't like", pronounced by a child before a dish of food that does not like, has to be carried with tranquillity and intelligence. Children are great imitators of their parents, so if children see that their parents are selective and do not eat such or which food, they certainly tend to reject it they also. Hence the importance of stress, from the outset, to include in the diet food of all kinds (if appropriate to the physiological characteristics of the child) or which will prevent nutritional problems of behavior in the future.
To get a correct nutrition of children will have to arm themselves with patience once started the period of introduction of new foods. It will be essential to play with your child, make the food that it appeals to you and go it gradually incorporating in your diet so that you do not notice a very sudden change.

Treatment of the syndrome of the selective dining

To question many parents if you can treat the syndrome of the selective dining room and get back to a normal diet, the psychotherapist Toni Grau says Yes, although "as in all complex health conditions, treatment requires an interdisciplinary approach, in which they are present disciplines such as medicine, psychology, and nursing during all of the therapeutic process"explains the expert.
To address an effective treatment of the syndrome of the selective dining , these are the steps that follow us:
  • First, you must assess the nutritional status of the affected person. It is important to see in what condition the child arrives and how are their nutritional levels. In the same way, it is necessary to rule out the existence of an organic origin of the picture (allergies, sensitivity to certain foods, etc). In extreme cases (those in which the biological scales have come to be compromised) is it necessary even a brief hospitalization.
  • Once discarded organic problems should explore the explanatory factors that have led to this behavior. These will be which will show what therapeutic strategy should follow. Taking into account that in many cases the symptoms of selective dining room constitute the expression of a discomfort, it is important to be able to access the factors underlying the problem behavior.
  • Reached this stage, it was noted that in the majority of cases there has been to prioritize the restoration of the link with the main caregivers. Similarly, in certain cases the restructuring of certain dysfunctional family patterns, is necessary to equip the family unit of functionality to deal with this and other problems.
  • In parallel to the treatment of syndrome of the selective dining-related factors, be progressive to novel foods exposure, by selecting different groups of food and textures in order to be able to generalize this exposure to other products that make up a normal, healthy and balanced diet.

Tips to prevent the selective dining syndrome

The value of prevention and these behaviors is relative, since the behavior of a person with the syndrome of the selective dining is only an expression related to the temperament or the character of the individual (i.e., that the person does not eat because you can't, but because you don't want to), so the psychotherapists say that, despite this, environment in which viva and the child moves may be a protective factor against these issues.
These are some of the strategies and tips that can enhance this protection against the emergence of the syndrome of the selective dining room or the simple rejection of certain foods:
  • Devote time and attention to nutrition: is recommended that during the lunch the family care focuses as much as possible in the Act of eating and rituals associated with it, discarding, to the extent possible, other activities (watching TV, watch mobile phone, getting up from the table, read...).
  • Maintain a varied family feeding: all members of the family should eat everything, so varied and balanced, and comply with the general recommendations of the food or the Mediterranean diet pyramid.
  • Stimulate curiosity in exploring new tastes and textures: creativity and fleeing the routine in the kitchen get appetite opens and that novel foods are better accepted. Cuisine in different ways (iron, steam, oven...), vary the diet foods always looking for substitute and looking for different recipes each time.
  • Must not give food a character of reward or punishment: "If you behave, you repeat dessert", "you don't move the table until you eat lentils", this type of phrases, repeated over time, only generate the child is accustomed to getting what he wants with a certain behavior and is encapriche or be angry if you don't get what you want.
  • The family hierarchy should be: As a rule, children, between two and three years, show an oppositional behavior towards adults in a first attempt to test the family hierarchy. It is at this time when it is crucial to establish a hierarchical structure in which parents have their executive capacity.
  • Avoid mediate before other people feed the children when they are not at home: is the case, for example, calls to teachers to negotiate the diet during the gatherings or in the dining room of the school. The child must get used to eat what they put on the plate whether or not in his house, as a form of personal learning and behaviour in society.
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