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Parents of Picky Eaters, Here's the Scoop

by Tyler Jacobson (follow)
Tyler P. Jacobson
Parenting (156)      Eating (32)      Kids (130)     
As someone who is passionate about family fitness and nutrition, I come across lots of parents whose kids are picky eaters. Having raised two kids of my own, I understand how frustrating and anxiety-inducing picky eating can be.

Here’s a quick summary of common FAQs I normally tackle:

1. Why is my child such a picky eater?

As kids grow, they start developing their own preferences where food is concerned. They naturally start liking certain foods over others and may reject some as a way of asserting their independence.
Some children may have naturally heightened senses so they end up being repulsed by the smell, taste or appearance of some foods. Yet others might have had bad experiences thanks to food sensitivities or allergic reactions which then dampens their enthusiasm when it comes to trying out new foods.

2. My child used to eat well and now she just picks at her food. Is this a passing phase?

It could be. Kids between 2-6 years are notoriously finicky eaters with constantly changing tastes so food that is liked today might be rejected tomorrow. At this age, it is common for children to lose interest in eating. As mentioned before, they’re developing individual preferences and becoming more autonomous.

Although most kids thankfully outgrow this phase, some instances of severe picky eating href="http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/136/3/e582">might indicate serious emotional or behavioral issues in a child. Consult a doctor if you’re worried that this might be the case with your child.

3. How can I introduce new foods to a picky eater?

Kids need to see new foods several times before agreeing to actually try them. They’re also more likely to eat food that they see you enjoying. Other tips include:

Getting them involved in food shopping and preparation. Kids who help to make a meal are more likely to eat it.

Trying different varieties of their favorite foods and adding new ingredients. For instance, if your kid likes pancakes, try buckwheat blender pancakes one day and blueberry pancakes the next.
Avoid turning mealtimes into battlegrounds and don’t succumb to bribing your child to eat healthy meals as this could lead to a negative relationship with food later on.

4. Is my child at risk of nutritional deficiencies because of his picky eating?

It depends on the kind of foods your kid shuns e.g. he could develop micronutrient deficiencies if he continuously refuses to eat fruits and veggies. Also, children who don’t eat a varied diet run the risk of becoming malnourished. This is why it’s important to encourage healthy eating by teaching kids to ‘eat a rainbow’ to get a variety of nutrients.

5. What can I do if my child is a severely picky eater?

Severe cases of picky eating call for medical intervention. So consult your pediatrician if your child’s fussy eating gets progressively worse and starts interfering with their health and your family life. A doctor will be able to determine if there are any underlying causes to the problem as well as prescribe medication should any be required.


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