What if my child is a picky eater?

If you’re a parent, you’ve noticed or been bothered by the fact that your child has such a small selection of foods that s/he enjoys. You’re worried that he never wants to eat his vegetables and always asks for McDonalds. Maybe your kids will go through a buffet line and put pasta, bread and potatoes on their plate and you’re wondering how this is going to affect their weight and health.

Picky eating is a common problem and can be a normal part of childhood development. Another related problem is selective eating, which is actually classified as an eating disorder and often (though not always) displays with weight loss or absence of weight gain and nutritional deficiencies.

Picky Eater Nutrition Problems

Because picky eating is so widespread, there are many studies looking at children’s eating behaviors. In one study, researchers looked at both children ages 8-12 and their parents or caregivers and found that 1 in 5 of the kids were considered picky eaters by their parents. The moms of the recognized picky eaters also made the following observations about their children’s behaviors in contrast to the “normal” eaters:

  • they ate a limited number of foods
  • they required special meal preparation
  • they had less acceptance of new foods
  • they were hesitant and insecure around new foods
  • they had struggles with their parents over food
  • they had more parent-child struggles about food
  • they had more special food preferences

All this creates stress around food, mealtime, grocery shopping, and eating out. There is a potential for nutrition issues especially if this behavior continues or if the diet remains very restricted or lacking in color, fruit, vegetables, and protein. This can affect growth, the health and development of the body and organs, nutritional status, future eating behaviors, weight, and quality of life.

Nutrition Therapy for Picky Eating

If you’re reading this, you know that proper nutrition is essential for your child’s health and wellbeing. Nutrition therapy can help discover and target the reasons behind your child’s picky eating and food preferences, provide you with tools for mealtime and other food-centric events, help relieve the stress of both you and your child surrounding eating, implement strategies to introduce or reintroduce new foods and variety into their diet, and consider appropriate supplementation.

Nutrition therapy for picky eating is a family approach so we involve the parents and caregivers in the sessions to promote optimum outcomes for the child.