How To Manage A Picky Eater
Thu, April 22, 2021

How To Manage A Picky Eater

Most children can’t appreciate the mountains of different kinds of food in front of them. They will insist on having their favorite food instead of feasting on the special dishes prepared for the occasion / Photo by: Happy cake Happy cafe via Shutterstock

 

The holidays are coming and for sure there will be a lot of meals on the table for families and friends to feast on to celebrate the happy occasion. However, these events can also turn out to be problematic for parents who have a child who is a picky eater. They can have a hard time handling a child who refuses to have their meal in front of other people. 

Most children can’t appreciate the mountains of different kinds of food in front of them. They will insist on having their favorite food instead of feasting on the special dishes prepared for the occasion. For a lot of kids, the Thanksgiving turkey is thick and stringy and its stuffing is full of disconcerting lumps and mixed textures so can they have a hotdog, please? These unfamiliar and unusual tastes could be overwhelming for other kids. 

For parents who have seen this played out in past years have become wise enough to prepare beforehand, making sure that their kids’ favorite food such as fried chicken, sausages, or sweet treats are also available to keep them happy and contented during the celebration and don’t throw any tantrum that can ruin the day. Other ways to handle a picky eater are as follows:

 

Set Up a Realistic Expectation for Children

“It’s so easy for us parents to come into this holiday with unrealistic eating expectations for our children,” said Crystal Karges, a registered dietitian-nutritionist in San Diego who focuses on mothers and families. She added that even though Thanksgiving might be an important event for adults, for kids, it’s just another meal with a bunch of your relatives. 

The New York Times, an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership, suggested in an article that if your child wants to have mashed potato for dinner, let them. Stop assuming that this will be the year when your child will instantly love roasted Brussels sprouts or pumpkin pie. Holiday meals are too overwhelming for picky eaters to venture out of their comfort zones.

“It may not be at your house or your house may be much more crowded and noisier than usual,” Jenny McGlothlin, a feeding therapist at the University of Texas at Dallas Callier Center. Children will be more focused on playing with their cousins or watching games or the parade—trying out vegetables for the first time will be the last thing on their mind during the holidays.

Before the celebration starts, talk ahead about the foods that will be served and find out if your child has had them before. Let them know if you’re making a special meal for them and ask them if they would like to help in preparing the food. This way, your family can have their family tradition and it is also a low-pressure way of increasing their comfort levels with the new food.

Before the celebration starts, talk ahead about the foods that will be served and find out if your child has had them before / Photo by: Foxys Forest Manufacture via Shutterstock

 

Understand Their Development

Children are still learning to function socially. Always remember that picky eating is a phase that will soon wear off. Children across the globe experience a picky eating phase from about age 2 to age 4, according to an article published by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

Katherine Dahlsgaard, Ph.D., ABPP, clinical director of the Anxiety Behaviors Clinic, said that picky eating is a built-in protective impulse in a child. Most toddlers who wander off out of a caregiver’s sight will pick up things off the ground and put them in their mouths. Nature has instilled in them the instinct to think that the object is a new food and that they won’t like it. 

“Most picky eating cannot be explained by poor parenting. The proof for that is that many picky eaters have siblings who eat just fine,” Dahlsgaard said. She added that a child’s brain is different from others, and it might be the reason why some are much more rigid about trying new foods compared to others. This is why parents of children who are picky eaters must have enough patience because managing a child like this can be frustrating at times. 

Children are still learning to function socially. Always remember that picky eating is a phase that will soon wear off / Photo by: Tom Burlison via Shutterstock

 

Start Slow and Creative

It can be tempting to tell a child to finish their plate and avoid wasting food. But to make a child have their meal properly, parents must provide only a small portion of new foods so that the unfamiliar taste or texture won’t overwhelm them. Telling your child to finish everything on their plate, including those they don’t like can be discouraging for the child and they can associate this with the new food being introduced to them so that they will become averse to it. 

A bite or two of green beans can be tolerable for a child, but a plateful of vegetables can turn them off. Putting more of their favorite food choices can help introduce them to new ones. 

Most kids go for visually appealing food. Also, making textures more delectable can encourage your kids to turn from picky eater to healthy eater. They might change their minds with a little creativity on your end. Greens can be thrown into a sweet, colorful smoothie, and celery can be a lot more fun with peanut butter and raisins. All it takes is a lot of patience and imagination on your part.