Picky Eaters: When Waffles and Fries Are All You Eat

"Do people really think I want to show up at a business meeting and only eat bread rolls?" she said.

Lopez, who, like Krause, is participating in the Duke survey and registry, said she hopes for "some kind of validation of the condition."

"It's very difficult to explain what you're going through to people, and it's hard to feel like a freak all the time," she said.

Lopez and Krause each have theories on why they are picky eaters, and both say they believe it has some sort of genetic or neurological origin. They also associate their picky eating with obsessive compulsive disorder, but say that the true cause won't be known without proper research.

Zucker, the doctor leading the study, was not made available for an interview, but psychologist Marcia Pelchat of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia studies picky eaters and says that the survey really could provide some relief for individuals who are suffering from their relationships with food.

Do Picky Eaters Have a Medical Disorder?

In addition to the social consequences picky eating can have on a person's life, Pelchat said that there are also more traditional negative health consequences that might be avoided if a cause of picky eating -- or a cure -- was discovered.

"Many of these adult picky eaters are obese," said Pelchat. "You think if you're picky and there's nothing to eat, you might be thin but many of these picky eaters eat very high-caloric items. They just don't eat anything that is low in caloric density."

Both Krause and Lopez claim that they are healthy. Krause admits being 25 pounds overweight but says that he does not have more health problems than his father did when he was 63. Lopez, who has two children, said that she has low blood pressure and low cholesterol, and that despite concerns from her doctors both her babies were born healthy and she was able to breastfeed. For them, the social discomfort is the worst part of their picky eating habits.

Pelchat said that she hopes the Duke study will help determine what differentiates a severe picky eater to simply a person who is finicky about food. That will make it easier for insurance companies to determine what to procedures and therapies to cover, should they accept picky eating as a medial disorder.

Until then, picky eaters like Krause and Lopez will continue their battle with the food groups they find revolting.

"Tomatoes," said Krause, an expression of disgust coming through in his voice, "Are public enemy No. 1."

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