A discussion, aimed at parents, about picky eaters and some solutions to the problem.
Is childhood synonymous with picky eating? Many frustrated parents would answer a resounding yes! Experts do agree, food jags, such as a fear of new foods, or eating like a bird, are a normal part of growing up.
Binges are also a common dilemma for parents. Children seem to want to eat exactly the same food at every meal. Peanut butter sandwiches, cold cereal, or cheeseburgers, for example. This kind of behavior may be a sign of independence, the child's way of saying. "this is who I am and I can have my own likes and dislikes." Ten-year old Josh refused to eat anything at lunch but a chicken sandwich and oatmeal cookie. Much to his parents' dismay, this continued for weeks. In his case, doctors say it's best not to try to force variety on Josh, as he would probably dig in his heels and stand firm.
Unfortunately, some parents find themselves becoming short-order cooks in an effort to please everyone at the dinner table. Others nag, fuss, or threaten kids to eat. Attempting to please everyone or constant nagging is bound to lead to tension during mealtimes. Both the "short-order cook" alternative and the nagging alternative should be avoided.
There's even a word "neophobia" which means a fear or suspicion of new foods. In fact, a study from 1992, found children would not accept a new food until they had been exposed to it 12 to 15 times! But take heart, there is some good news. Here are some suggestions for even the most finicky eater.
1) Offer something completely different, such as pizza for breakfast or bacon and eggs for supper. Don't let
yourself get too hung up on the "right time" of day.
2) For vegetable haters, grate carrots into muffins or pureed zucchini into tomato sauce. Or offer low-fat creamy dressing for dipping raw veggies.
3) Kids like a hands-on feeling, so let them top the pizza or stuff the pita pockets. In theory, they are more likely to eat the food if they have helped with the preparation.
4) For smaller kids, keep portions tiny, as large amounts can overwhelm them. If they eat it all you can always offer more.
5) If they avoid fruits, try cutting up the pieces and offer a sweet dipping sauce.
6) Offer new, previously untried foods when you know the child is particularly hungry.
7) For variety, try a "buffet" including five to six healthy choices at mealtime.
8) Experts suggest sitting next to your child rather than across the table. The position across the table can be too intimidating or watchful.