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January 20, 2011 @ 7:13 pm

Is Picky Eating an Eating Disorder?


Rebecca Cooper Founder of Rebecca's House Eating Disorder Treatment Programs™ & Author of Diets Don't Work joined the program.

Note: Refer to audio player below to listen to this episode.


Rebecca Cooper is a California licensed therapist, Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and the Founder of Rebecca’s House Eating Disorder Treatment Programs™. She is the author of Diets Don’t Work®, the Diets Don’t Work® Structured Program Workbook, instructional DVDs, and Guided Imagery CDs. She is the eating disorder expert for and Rebecca also appears on television, webcasts, and radio to promote disordered eating awareness.

Ms. Cooper received her Master in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. She is an international speaker who has contributed numerous published articles to the field of Addictions and Eating Disorders.

In October 2004, Rebecca was honored as the Rising Star in Business by WomanSage©, an event sponsored by the University of California Irvine Medical Center. The award was in recognition to her innovative approach to helping women with eating disorders and her dedicated service of helping others recover. In May of 2009, she was nominated for the Orange County Business Journal's Women in Business Award.


Abbreviated Transcript of Interview with Rebecca Cooper

Eric Michaels: How do you define picky eating, and whether you consider picky eating as an adult to be an eating disorder?

Rebecca Cooper: If you find yourself binging and restricting (ie. yo-yo dieting) you will usually start gaining more weight. When we are dieting our metabolism slows down because our body thinks we are experiencing a famine. Then when we eat even a normal amount our body will hold on to as many calories as possible to make it thought the perceived famine. With each diet that person will gain more weight than before.

Eric Michaels: What are signs that someone needs help with regard to picky eating - how do they judge whether to seek professional help?

Rebecca Cooper: First try to stop the behavior. Most people know what and how to eat they just can't put that into practice. This could be an eating disorder. Here are some signs to look for:

  • Avoiding to eat with the family (I'm not hungry,I already ate, I have an upset stomach, l'll eat at friend's house later)
  • Suddenly a vegetarian or wants to prepare her own food
  • Uses food when upset or stressed
  • Has lost a significant amount of weight in a short period of time
  • Use of laxatives, diuretics, and/or appetite suppressants (diet pills, caffeine drinks, teas, ephedrine, etc
  • Eating the same few foods (lettuce, yogurt, dry cereal) at all meals
  • Showering several times a day
  • Must exercise
  • Tooth enamel eroded on front teeth or increased cavities
  • Becomes very defensive when questioned about eating habits or exercise
  • Eats small amounts with others, hides food, and then binges privately
  • Having a preoccupation with body, weight, and food
  • Isolating or avoids social situations
  • Going to the bathroom during or following meals
  • Tends to have swollen glands at jaw and cheeks
  • Broken blood vessels in the eye, and/or blood shot eyes
  • Moodier and more irritable than usual, having a hard time expressing emotions
  • Has a high need for control
  • Develops fine facial and body hair, loses period
  • Stating feeling fat even when thin
  • Complaints of being cold or dressing in many layers
  • Shifting the food around on the plate to look eaten
  • Cutting food into tiny pieces
  • Chewing food and spitting it out, but not swallowing
  • Dropping food into napkin on lap to later throw away
  • Eating foods in certain order
  • Excessive chewing
  • Excessive use of condiments
  • Pairing condiments with inappropriate foods (i.e. ketchup & mustard on salad).
  • Excessively mixing foods together
  • Overuse of salt and spices
  • Taking long pauses between bites
  • Dry salads (without dressing)
  • Exclusively using fat-free and low-fat items
  • Cooking for others but not eating

Eric Michaels: What treatment plan would you suggest for an adult picky eater?
Rebecca Cooper: It is important to get a medical check-up to make sure there is not a medical reason for the behavior. Labs should also be taken to make sure everything is in order especially electrolytes and potassium levels. Abnormal levels can actually result in a heart attack. Get an evaluation from an eating disorder specialist to determine what action to take.


Want the entire audio version of this eHealth Radio Episode? Rebecca Cooper discusses & answers:

  • Why is obesity becoming such an increasing problem in this country?
  • Does insurance cover obesity?
  • Don't Miss Special Conclusion Tip...

Web Sites:

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Note: The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of the show host or it's owners.

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