If you have a picky eater in your family – you are not alone – most American households have at least one. Picky eaters consume a very narrow range of foods, which tend to be lacking in nutrients and fiber.
Picky eating is very common in toddlers, and as long as parents continue to offer healthy choices and do not cater to their pickiness, many kids will outgrow this stage. But picky kids can become picky adults if allowed to continue eating “kid food.”
Our bodies need antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to support all cellular functions. Picky eaters’ diets tend to be more lacking in vegetables, and contain too many processed foods. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies, lowered immune system, constipation, and even other problems like delayed growth and bone strength/ density problems (read Building Strong Bones in Kids). Eating a highly processed diet also increased the risk for weight gain and all degenerative diseases including heart disease and diabetes later in life.
The younger you can start, the better, because as kids get older – their eating habits get more “set” and difficult to change, and they are more independent – making more decisions on their own. But it is never too late to start improving dietary habits – even picky adults can do it!
Some typical picky eater “profiles”:
20 Tips for Transforming Picky Eaters:
Do not give up!! First of all, realize that transforming a picky eater is no picnic. Some kids can fit more than one of the above “types” of picky eaters, which can make the challenge even more difficult. Don’t expect a picky eater to change overnight – most kids who are picky will need a lot of encouragement, and despite improving, could always be a little on the picky side. But even little improvements in their diet – can add up over time. But realize – it is worth the effort, kids who do not eat a well balanced diet are going to be at an increased risk for diseases later in life. Obesity and diabetes are rising in this country, and changing that starts at home in the kitchen. Keep reminding yourself that it is worth every frustrating minute of your time and energy to help them expand their palate.
If your picky eater does not improve at all after several weeks of trying – it might be worth seeing a specialist. Severe cases of picky eating are called Selective Eating Disorder and can last until adulthood if not treated. The definition of a true eating disorder is defined as abnormal eating habits that cause detriment to health, and can also interfere with social and professional relationships. Read No Age on Picky Eating in the Wall Street Journal to learn more.
Your child’s pediatrician can monitor their growth to make sure they are on track for height and weight. Some picky eaters can be underweight because they do not consume enough foods to maintain their weight, but others can be overweight due to the over-consumption of high calorie, nutrient deficient foods. In both cases, nutrient deficiencies can exist.
Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, whose book The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.
©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.
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Wow. This is THE most helpful resource I have ever found on picky eating. Thank you! My son falls somewhere between the snacker/controller. I appreciate the tips. I’ll try adding more protein to his diet. After reading this Mom’s Guide (http://www.1dental.com/moms-guide/), I took a closer inventory of what he eats – mostly sugar and processed foods! We definitely need to make some changes and so again, I really appreciate these tips!!
[…] bananas, raisins, and other healthy snacks? This is a great approach for a picky eater too (read 20 Tips for Picky Eaters for more). Our soccer coach a couple of seasons ago requested orange slices for a half time boost […]
[…] To get more tips for helping transform your picky eater, read 20 Tips for Transforming a Picky Eater. […]
© copyright 2015 Sara Vance