At my college graduation ceremony in 1985:

"Amazing she's been so successful and even graduated from college, you know the way she eats & all."

-Well-meaning friend 


I cried when I first found the PEA website. There are actually others
like me.  Then I met you through the website...again the tears.  You are
a wonderful spokeperson for us.  Keep at it and good luck.  Someday I
really hope others (non-PE's) will understand that we didn't choose to
be this way.

Karen W



Good to hear from you Marla and I had totally forgotten about your eating thing…..
I liked reading your stories and will go look for the magazine….. we love you just the way you are. It’s very interesting and it’s a great message of overcoming life’s challenges.
You are one of the most fun to be with, good humored, energetic women I know!!!!
There is only one  “BOOM BOOM!!!”
Continued love and blessings to you 
-Paul and Mary Butler


I'm in the same boat as you! I'm 22 years old and eat mainly pasta, bread, potato chips & french fries. It's nice to see an article about this condition from the point of view of the subject and not written as an interview. I do hope there's help for us someday, because people think adult picky eating is non-existant. - Amber Nobles


This is my son! Starting at the age of one when I was weaning him and transitioning him from baby food to table food we hit a major wall. He would ONLY eat crunchy foods with any other textures either being refuse or making him gag. He is now 8 and after outpatient feeding tx and a lot of trial and error, my huband and I have just learned to take new food introductions slow with him and to build one new food into another. He is still far from being a"normal eater" but we hope to continue to make strides with him. No one understands though. Everyone thinks we are just giving into him, blah, blah, blah. This is something entirely different than a phase.

-Sara Randall Tostenson


LHJ did not do their research on this woman. This woman is lying about her eating habits. She would not have had a healthy baby eating this way. A pregnant mother has to have foods containing Folic acid for the fetus to develop a healthy brain. Don't publish such garbage! :( :(

-Sheila Bartek


Finally, my 18 year old daughter is not alone.

-Jennifer Durst Manno


I swear this is my son to a T. Thank you for this article and everyone who looks at me with a judgemental eye when I don't force my son to eat "what everyone else is eating".........BUGGER OFF!

-Chantel Rutledge LeVardi


My son is 10 years old and I could so relate to this story. It has made me see his eating habits in a different light, mainly that he doesn't CHOOSE to be so picky but that he can't help it. It's not his fault. He has added a few foods to his diet over the last few years and I hope he continues to do so at least a little bit. Partly for nutrition but also from a social point of view. He is often the only kid at a birthday party who eats NOTHING. This article has made me realize that we need to back off him a little bit and maybe just let him be who he is.

-Lisa Norton Holton


"Odd how you're receiving all this media attention for something "not-so-good".

-Well-meaning relative



This is complete BS. It's just pandering to picky kids. Kids have been picky forever. The answer is to offer them whatever the family is eating and if they won't eat it, then they don't eat. They'll eat once they're hungry enough. Pathetic parenting to allow the kids to run the show.

- branscht


OH MY GOD. Thank you so much for publishing this article! My son is 3 1/2 years old and he's a picky eater as well. We have struggled so much to try and get him to try new foods and this article has finally shed some light into why he is the way he is. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU! We actually just started him on feeding therapy today. What are the odds?

-Liz Lichtenstein


 Thank you so much for this article. We need to get the word out so that people will understand that this is a real problem and not just people being picky. My 15 yr old son has food neophobia and desperately wants to eat hot dogs and hamburgers like everyone else. These stories sure do help him to feel like he is not alone.

-Cara Lovely Bond


I'd like to see awareness of the picky eating problem increased and more research on the subject. This has negatively affected my family for years in ways that most people "just don't get". At the very least, it's awful to have to explain to a waitress on a family outing that your son will only have bread and milk - and the ridicule from family and coworkers is something I wish I didn't have to anticipate and deal with. My son isn't spoiled, he has a rare disorder that we have yet to find any assistance from our physician or the reputable child psychologist we've worked with. We continue to suffer and hope for a better outcome. It's good to know we're not alone.

 Written after viewing the Good Morning America segment on October 26, 2012:


I’ve been a picky eater my whole life, but not to the same extreme as the woman above (I eat more than 3 foods, & have been slowly expanding my list over the years.) But I took offense to the line from the interview on the show this morning, “Think of it like Claustrophobia, fear of tight spaces, only with food.” It insinuates we have a fear of other foods, which isn’t the case at all. Marla herself said other foods aren’t seen as foods. Eating them isn’t appetizing, and can actually be quite sickening.

Also, you focused on the idea of it being a psychological disorder, even after Dr. Zucker stated that it’s biological and not just in our heads. Did you do any research into the idea of “super tasters?” We as humans are split into three groups of tasters based on the concentration of our taste buds — “super tasters” actually have more taste buds, a greater defined sense of taste, and are more likely to be picky eaters because they experience food with taste, touch (texture), & smell. They prefer more bland foods and dislike mixing different flavors together.

Posted by: Marybeth | October 26, 2012 October 26, 2012, 8:45 am




  • Joyce Deer (Saturday, October 27 12 11:23 am EDT)

    Marla, the website is wonderful and I can't wait to read your book. Meeting you, and Bob, and the countless others on the PEA website has changed my life! If I can take ONE thing away from this to pass on to others, it would be to the parents who feel guilty that they didn't "do something right" that their kid "turned out this way". Just love them, understand them, and be there to support them and listen. They need you, more than you will ever know, if they are like us. Marla, keep up the great PR work for us - you are amazing!!

Joyce.... You are 100% correct!   THANK YOU!!    This is the message that Dr. Nancy Zucker (Duke University) is trying to convey not only to the general public, but peditricians everywhere as well.    A young mother with a 6 year old suffering from the inability to eat most foods reached out to me recently.   She is SOOOOO relieved to know it's not her fault.   The stress on the child, wanting so much to 'fit in', combined with the guilt of the mother is a recipe for future emotional disaster.    Now, armed with the knowledge this is "real", her understanding will help him lead a normal life!                                        Marla McWilliams-Lopez   :-)



(Monday, October 29 12 10:31 am EDT)

I'm a vegetarian who exercises and calorie restricts (at a healthy level for weight loss.) You'd be surprised at how many people foolishly judge my carefully researched lifestyle choice. Why should you eating what you prefer be judged, either? You're responsible and have had your health checked out. So long as you're happy and healthy, why should there be any stigma at all? Hang in there and best of luck, health and happiness to you and yours...

Marla's Response:   Thanks for your kind words.   We, that have this highly restricted diet, would "prefer" to eat 'normal' foods, it's an inability to eat these foods, which is why the words "picky eater" doesn't really describe us as it's not a choice.    However, even if it was a choice, as you say, what business is it of anyone's what we eat?   


It's so sad to see people who don't understand that different bodies have different capabilities, and different disorders. I personally can't understand how most people can't master, for instance, advanced mathematics, but I would never walk around bashing them in public - I have to understand that not everyone's brain works the same way. But I also have to hide my inability to swallow most foods from that same group of people, because most of them are able to eat most foods with ease, and for some reason can't make that leap to the thought that there are people who don't have that ability. I want to call it ignorance, and that is probably what it is.

Posted on yahoo by joliesf October 28, 2012


Whatever she eats or doesn't eat...she looks fabulous! I'm quite surprised and sorry GMA didn't speak to the health issues on this kind of eating. A balanced diet is drummend into our heads at every's obvious this person doesn't heed or need it! Does she supplement with vitamins and minerals or herbals? Why and how can she be so healthy?

Posted on yahoo by chrisb October 28, 2012


My daughter, 38 years old, has a similar diet to Marla’s. She started pushing food away when she was just a year old. Until that point I had no problems with her eating. She eats only bacon as far as meat, french fries, grilled cheese sandwich (no cheese in any other form), pancakes, cereal, snacks, peanut butter, a scrambled egg (no other form) , and bread and butter. I spoke with her doctors and was told she would grow out of it, but she never did. I understand the difficulty of eating out and always having to go to a restaurant that will serve what she would eat, but we managed. She has been fortunate to have many friends who are understanding. I sometimes think there may be a genetic reason as although I am a good eater for the most part, I do not eat most fruit. There are several fruits such as bananas and melons that the smell repulses me. At any rate my daughter has three children and feeds them normal meals. She still has no desire to eat anything different.

Posted by: Rosemarie | October 27, 2012 October 27, 2012, 3:35 pm


I have this picky eating disorder. I too have gagged on various foods since I was an infant. I get very frustrated that people will consistently tell me that it’s all in my head or to stop being so stubborn, as if I like eating the way I do is a choice. I have endlessly tried to expand my diet, but every time I attempt to it ends in an embarrassing mess because my body simply rejects it.

The amount of stigma I get as a result of this issue is not very enjoyable either. I don’t force people to cook around my issue, I’ll go without eating instead to save myself from the humiliation of even having to ask. If I’m able to eat some of the foods that are served, I’ll eat what I can. What gets me is that people can’t mind their own business of what I eat. The comments and teasing I endure has been slowly causing me to dread social outings where food is involved.

I do not have a fear of food. I promise you that I’m not afraid of eating a piece of steak. It just doesn’t present itself as being food, at all. In comparison to many people with my issue, I do eat a few vegetables, in fact my diet is quite large in comparison to most picky eaters and I’m making serious strides to expand it. Unfortunately, I’m on my third year of trying and the only thing I’ve accomplished is expanding on the varieties of things I already could eat in the first place. I still can’t eat meats, fish, soups, or most vegetables. Fortunately, fruits have never been a problem.

To those who have children with this issue: Serve the food you typically would serve, with a couple things they will eat. Make it a low-stress situation and offer an “experimentation plate” that each person in the family gets. That plate should be for foods that you either don’t like or haven’t tried just yet. Seeing adults and any siblings using this tactic makes the picky eater feel less isolated, and it provides a good role model for efforts to expand. Just, please, don’t argue, but do offer the foods the person in question won’t eat, and respect the word no. This will prevent dinner time from being a stressful situation entirely, which is important. Always seeing dinner as a time for stress and fighting is not a good thing to condition your child into.

Posted by: Holly | October 26, 2012 October 26, 2012, 11:07 pm


Posted by: Rosemarie | October 27, 2012 October 27, 2012, 3:35 pm

I believe, as we are all free and as if we are all different , Joon Tuke Posted on October 31, 2012

She sounds like a “food racist” eating only white foods. Colored fruits and vegetables not “pure” enough for her.

lady and any of us can eat what he or she feels to.FDA is all business and corruption, so are the most of doctors as they have to pay off their college and university credits, so as soon as I hear they recommend something I listen to my body and only then I make a decision whether I follow their advise or not. This lady’s body urges for carbs. Probably it’s a medical condition, not mental, but there might be some disbalance in her body. that is sending the signal to the brain: I need carbs!

Posted by: Olga | October 28, 2012 October 28, 2012, 5:37 pm

People are becoming more and more aware of sensitivities to things in foods like phenols, salicylates, amines, sulfites, and other things, that are real and not at all imagined. If these things can exist, think of how many more there may be that we don’t even know about yet. Nobody wakes up one day and decides to live a life like that just for fun. They’re doing what they have to do – what works – even if nobody knows the reason why yet. And they’re not hurting anyone else by being different, so let’s leave the “attack different people” ignorance out of it.

Posted by: arielle | October 29, 2012 October 29, 2012, 8:33 pm

i have the same eating issues, i am 47 years old now and i have never eaten any vegetables, i have never eaten any fruits, i do not eat any meat off the bone, i have been like this since i was a child, when i lived in ny my intake was either pizza or burgers well done, if you think its easy living this way it is not, ,

Posted by: wayne k | October 30, 2012 October 30, 2012, 10:02 am

Write a comment


  • Karen W. (Thursday, October 04 12 02:05 pm EDT)

    I cried when I first found the PEA website. There are actually others like me. Then I met you through the website...again the tears. You are a wonderful spokeperson for us. Keep at it and good luck.
    Someday I really hope others (non-PE's) will understand that we didn't choose to be this way.

  • Rewa Colette Soltan (Tuesday, October 09 12 05:36 pm EDT)

    Having known Marla my entire adult life, I was incredulous when she first confided this issue in me after offering to meet me for countless business breakfasts, when I wanted a "real" meal. Believe
    me, this is not a choice. She suffered in silence for decades and I am incredibly proud to see her use this platform to reach out and help the tens of thousands who have been ostracized by society
    for a condition over which they have no control. Brava, Marvelous Marla!

  • Valerie (Saturday, October 27 12 02:57 am EDT)

    I don't understnad why it is that people feel they have to leave negative comments. If you don't agree with it or think its(B.S.) then don't read about it or watch it...yeah yeah yeah the whole
    freedom of speech thing but come on people you honestly have nothing better to do. There are others relating to the issue so,obviously she isnt the only one... I say GREAT job for having the corage
    to speak up. Oh! and one more thing 50 years ago doctors didnt know anything about things like post pardom depression and were throwing woman in straight jackets and now they know and understand the
    issues and can diagnose people sounds like thats happening in this situation!!! just saying

  • Abbie Dorobek (Saturday, October 27 12 04:19 pm EDT)

    I am almost 30 years old and have struggled with this my whole life. It is hard to explain to people what it is like to only eat certain foods and not want anything else. I live off of pasta
    (sometimes plain and sometimes with plain ragu spaghetti sauce), french fries (especially mcdonald's french fries), bread and butter, plain cheese pizza, and some kinds of cereals. I have never eaten
    a vegetable in my life and the only fruit I will eat is an apple. I will only eat chicken as far as meat is concerned. I have a hard time in relationships because of my eating habits and my 3year old
    son is now eating just like me. I have very few friends and it is extremely difficult to explain to my co-workers why i have the same thing for dinner every night. It brings a lot of unwanted
    attention and it is extremely embarrassing for me. I was so happy to see that article last night and I can't wait to start communicating with other people who "get it."

  • K (Monday, October 29 12 10:31 am EDT)

    I'm a vegetarian who exercises and calorie restricts (at a healthy level for weight loss.) You'd be surprised at how many people foolishly judge my carefully researched lifestyle choice. Why should
    you eating what you prefer be judged, either? You're responsible and have had your health checked out. So long as you're happy and healthy, why should there be any stigma at all? Hang in there and
    best of luck, health and happiness to you and yours...

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