It used to be that children ate the food that was put in front of them. They were expected to eat the same as everyone else at the table, whether they liked it or not. But today more and more parents struggle to get their children to eat, and food negotiations and mealtime stress are commonplace for many families.
There has been a significant increase in food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances, (think lactose, sucrose, fructose, and histamine). Along with these there has also been a rising number of children and adults diagnosed with autism, ADHD, anxiety, and depression. Frequently, food challenges and these diagnoses go hand in hand.
As a nutritionist I would like to share strategies with you about how you can tackle picky eating at home as well as how to distinguish if your child is truly experiencing picky eating versus problem feeding.
Picky eating includes the following:
Extreme picky or problem feeding may include:
What to do?
The truth is that most picky eaters eventually come around and will expand their horizons and try new foods. Additionally, they usually have just enough variety in their diet to get the nutrition that they need to continue to grow properly.
Problem feeding on the other hand is a more complicated situation. Problem feeders often aren’t getting enough calories or diversity in their diet and need extra care and attention to ensure that they can get back on track. If you feel your child is experiencing a more complex feeding issue such as problem feeding, it’s important to share your concerns with their provider. They may benefit from working with a specialist. In addition to working with a nutritionist or therapist, here are a few approaches that you can try at home:
Problem feeding and picky eating are common problems that many families face. Not every approach will be successful, but with patience and persistence, children can expand their dietary preferences. For additional guidance and resources on children and nutrition, check out the Ellyn Satter Institute at; Eat and feed with joy (ellynsatterinstitute.org).
Picky Eating and Problem Feeders – by Jen Orleow, MS, CN
Vital Kids Medicine, PLLC
5350 Tallman Ave NW, Suite #510
Seattle, WA 98107