5 Tips to Handle Your Picky Eater
Don’t despair. You can take steps – at home and with the help of your primary care provider or a registered dietitian – to help combat the issue.
Contributor: Jennifer Willoughby, RD, CSP, LD
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Yuck! Gross! Ew! If the sweet symphonies of “Mom, I don’t like this” or “Dad, I don’t like that” sound all too familiar to your family, you’ve got a picky eater on your hands.
Children can have a variety of eating challenges, and often it’s extremely difficult for parents to know how to navigate the behaviors involved.
It can also be concerning if your child isn’t gaining weight because of his or her selective habits. If this is of concern, don’t despair. You can take steps – at home and with the help of your primary care provider or a registered dietitian – to help combat the issue.
Research shows it often takes up to 10 or more exposures to develop a taste for a new food. Many people think this relates to fruits and vegetables, but children can be selective about any foods or whole food groups. So how do we recommend encouraging the children to try a food 10 times?
Let’s be honest: It’s not just children who can be picky – adults can be, too. As parents, it’s crucial to set a good example for your children. It’s just not feasible expect them to try a new food if the adult role models in their lives won’t do so, as well.
So what do you do if your child has tried a food 10 times and still dislikes it? My best piece of advice is to let it be.
Simply put: There are foods that kids will either like or dislike. We don’t expect them to love every vegetable grown from the earth, but we do hope they’ll try and find at least a few things they enjoy the taste of.
And don’t worry if your child is occasionally picky; this is a natural part of development. However, if your child continues to have severe food aversions or cuts out whole food groups, or if you sense any anxiety with trying new foods, it may be beneficial to look for additional support.
Talk to your health care provider for a referral to a behavior health specialist or feeding program that will work to get through whatever barriers may be present.
This post is based on one of a series of articles produced by U.S. News & World Report in association with the medical experts at Cleveland Clinic