are picky eaters mentally ill?

Oy. So there's this new study in the journal Pediatrics which every major publication has now written about that claims kids who are very picky eaters have a greater chance of having mental health issues as adults. The study was done at Duke University by Dr. Zucker who urges parents not to panic. Not every picky kid will be severely depressed or have an eating disorder.

But this part of Dr. Zucker's analysis rings true to me, and always has:

“Their sensory experience is more intense in the areas of taste, texture and visual cues. And their internal experience may be more intense, so they have stronger feelings. They’re sensitive kids who may be anxious or a little depressed; so cutting up fruits into funny shapes is not going to do the trick for these kids.”

I've long noticed Nate's aversion to foods is really not remedied with games or tricks. He feels very strongly about not eating certain foods in a way that seems to go deep. Something about a texture or smell will disgust him completely. I've fantasized that he will turn into a "super taster" or foodie with highly developed senses who actually excels at all things culinary but it's probably more likely this extreme sensitivity will apply to other aspects of his life. Which might not be bad—I'm all for him being a sensitive guy with a rich internal world even though it's a harder role to play in this world.

Another part of the study urges parents to create positive experiences around eating. Family dinner should be more about family than dinner. I think about him crying alone before sandwich night and wonder if we should just lay off him.