Food jags are when a person (adult or child!) will only eat a certain food or small number of foods. In this post we dive into whether or not food jags are harmful to health and how to know the difference between a food jag and a food preference.
Why Do Food Jags Happen?
Food jags are super common, for both children and adults. In children, food jags can happen due to a child genuinely preferring to eat a certain food, result from a power struggle, or a way for the child to show independence. In adults, typically the idea of a power struggle of wanting independence isn't an issue, so much of the time it may be due to genuinely preferring that food, ease of food preparation, or possibly disordered eating.
Are Food Jags Unhealthy?
Food jags typically aren't anything to seriously worry about. Children and many adults typically loose interest in a certain food over time, so the jag doesn't last forever and likely won't have large nutritional impacts, such as deficiencies.
While food is always the best source for nutritional status, multivitamin & mineral supplements can many times be given as an "insurance policy". Always speak with your healthcare provider before starting any sort of supplement.
What Should You Do About A Food Jag?
What you do about a food jag depends on the cause of the food jag. For advice on how to handle picky eating children I highly recommend checking out this blog post on where to start with a picky eater from my friend, Kacie. Kacie (aka @mamaknowsnutrition on instagram) is a guru when it comes to child nutrition!
For adults, I think the approach is different. First, ask yourself why the food jag is happening. Some common reasons are:
- Ease of preparation
- Disordered eating
If the cause is one of the first two reasons, I'd recommend meal planning in some new ideas. You can take components of what you like about a specific food (is the food cold, warm, creamy, crunchy, sweet, salty, easy to prepare, etc.) and find other foods with the same qualities. I have an entire post with how to meal plan for intuitive eating. Be sure to check that out for some ideas!
If the reason is disordered eating and the person only feels "safe" eating this specific food, then that's a different story. Many times adults who struggle with disordered eating find only a few foods they feel comfortable eating because they have specific qualities that "fit" within their food rules, such as calorie content, macro content, health benefits, etc.
How To Know If Your Food Jag Is Disordered
If you're finding yourself eating the same foods on the daily and aren't sure why ask yourself this question "Would I get anxiety if I had to eat something different?" If the answer is yes, it may be a sign that your food jag or food preference is actually a rule and may be a sign of disordered eating.
If this is the case then you'll need to work to overcome your fear of eating other foods. I have created a free e-book, The Ultimate 5 Step Guide To Food Freedom, which outlines the exact 5 steps I took to overcome my own disordered eating food jags. If you want to hear more about my story you can checkout the blog post I wrote on how I was finally able to make peace with food and my body after years of disordered eating.
Typically, disordered eating food jags can last much longer than, say, a common childhood food jag. I'd recommend reaching out to a registered dietitian to help evaluate if your habits of eating the same thing every day are rooted in disordered eating that may need further nutritional attention.
Leave a comment with your thoughts on food jags and if you've ever encountered one as a child or adult!
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