Have A Picky Eater At Home? Here Is What Science Has To Say About It!

posted by R's Mom , March 03, 2016

Do you have a picky eater at home? Science has something very interesting to say about it!

Both my girls are eaters. You know the kind of kids who eat anything and everything given to them. So much that I need to tell them to STOP eating! One is seven and the other is a five-year-old. So you can well understand why I never understood the term 'Picky Eater'.

My mother always says my brother was a very very fussy eater. He would not eat anything and when my mother tried to force feed him, he would just vomit out everything! She had a tough time feeding him. I, on the other hand, was a total contrast. I would gobble down even the food given to him!

Picky eaters can be very difficult to handle 

I see my sister in law, struggling every day to give food to my nephew. He is very particular about what he eats and what he does not want to eat. He can stay hungry for hours together, not once telling us that he wants something to eat. Picky eaters can be very difficult to handle.

In fact, there is an article in TIME, which says,

Rare is the child who will eat pretty much anything. Most toddlers develop specific favorite foods and, of more concern, absolute no-go foods. To a certain extent, that's normal. But when eating preferences make it difficult for the child to eat with others, that could be a sign of more serious sensitivities, say scientists in a report appearing in Pediatrics.

However, Zucker says the findings shouldn't alarm parents but should help them and their doctors to start being more specific about when picky eating is normal and when it should be seen as a sign of possible anxiety issues. What may be happening, she says, is that selective eating may be a symptom of a broader hypersensitivity. 

What makes a child a picky eater?

Apparently, as per the Smithsonian, it's the genes, brains and breast milk which make us picky eaters! The article looks in depth about picky eating and the science behind it.

While picky eating has been around as long as children and vegetables, it has only recently been recognized as a clinical disorder. The American Psychiatric Association's DSM-V, the handbook most commonly used for psychiatric diagnoses, lists Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder as a new diagnostic category. But like other psychiatric disorders, picky eating isn't generally recognized medically until it becomes a big problem.

This is supported by PBS, it turns out that genetics largely determine our taste and specific genes may provide new excuses for picky eaters!

In this interview with Parents.com, Stephanie Lucianovic, the author of Suffering Succotash: A Picky Eater's Quest to Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate, says that parents shouldn't blame themselves as it is not the parent's fault that a child is a picky eater.

How to tackle a picky eater

The best way to tackle a picky eater is to work around him or her. Make food look attractive, make it sound interesting, make eating anything new an adventure. It always works.

This NYMag article says:

Acknowledge that your child has preferences but serve foods that are deemed unacceptable along with favorite foods. Don't force your child to eat something new but encourage him or her to take a taste."

And don't give up easily. "Children may need 10 exposures to a new food before accepting it," Donovan told Russo. "Parents often give up before then." All of this, by the way, rings true to this reformed picky eater.

In the end, it all depends on what your child wants and how you present the food. And if you do have a picky eater at home, just don't fret about it. At the end of the day, a child will ask for food when he/she is really hungry. My nephew now is four years and thanks to my sister in law's awesome cooking and trying various permutations and combinations, he has learned to love food and he asks for food all the time. So hang in there and keep cooking for your kid!  

Image credit: http://www.playworkschicago.com/



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