If you live with a picky eater, you’ve probably asked yourself this questions – maybe more than once! When dealing with picky eaters – especially kids – most people just dismiss the behavior and tell the child to eat what’s on their plate. But there are actually reasons why some kids are picky eaters. In the last few years, there’s been a lot of research into just what causes a picky eater to be, well, picky.

Here are 5 reasons that your child may be a picky eater:

Sensitivity to bitter and sour flavors. Studies show that kids will increase their liking for a bitter or sour food when it’s paired with something sweet. This may be evolutionary. In nature, bitterness and sourness are often associated with toxicity. They may be “naturally” avoiding foods that they perceive as harmful.

Desire for energy-rich foods. Pound for pound, kids need more food that we do. Their bodies are growing and changing and that requires a lot of energy. This may mean that kids naturally prefer foods high in fat and sugar. These foods are naturally calorie-dense.

Early taste experiences. Studies suggest that, near the end of pregnancy, fetuses can taste the foods that their pregnant mothers eat (don’t ask me how researchers figure this stuff out). Food flavors can also be transmitted through breast milk during nursing. These very early taste experiences may shape the child’s taste preferences.

Genetically-based food avoidance. A new study of twins found that reluctance to eat new foods may be genetically determined. Researchers found that identical twins were more likely to share food avoidance traits than were fraternal twins.

Social cues. Kids may not be good at listening to their parents, but they are great at imitating what their parents do. This is particularly true of the same-sex parent. They use you, the parent, as a role model in order to quickly acquire social skills and behavioral patterns. In other words, if you pick at your food, they will too.

All of these are reasons that your child may be a picky eater. So, what can you do to help them broaden their taste? First, recognize that not every person will like every food. Second, studies have shown that kids may need to be “introduced” to a food 10 or more times before they are even willing to try it. The message here is don’t give up! If your child avoids peas the first time you serve them, try again. And again. And again. Don’t get discouraged.

Third, if you want your child to eat healthy, then you have to eat healthy. Kids will follow your lead and at least try whatever you’re eating. Finally, get your kids involved in menu selection and meal preparation. They are much more likely to eat something they prepare.

Remember, healthy choices you make each day can transform your family for generations! What choices will you make today?

Do You Wish Your Kid’s Ate Better? Check out our FREE eBook at www.HealthFamilyFuture.com. Many of the strategies in this book can be used by both children and adults.
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You may also want to read: Picky Eaters: Taste Buds Matter, Vegetables: Now You See Them, Now You Don’t, Picky Eaters: What We Can Learn From the French

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12 Responses to What’s the Deal with Picky Eaters?

  1. Wish I had known of this wisdom when I was raising my son- good grief he was a picky eater! and still is!! Luckily I’m not providing his meals anymore. All kidding aside, great article. Thank you

    • Vitaerobics says:

      Thanks for your feedback! Some kids are just picky by nature, but they can stil eat healthy. Many times their pickiness is a result of how a particular food was prepared, rather than the food itself. It sounds like you had a handful, and I’m glad you were involved as you were!

  2. J. Winslow says:

    What a great article to raise awareness for parents. I’m not a mom, nut often wonder why parents let their kids eat chicken nuggets and fried junk when they could learn better options by starting early. Are we as a society taking the easy way out, or would it be just as easy to be healthy for life?… Food for thought!
    J. Winslow recently posted..The world is grateful to Stephen R. Covey….My Profile

    • Vitaerobics says:

      You ask great questions! I have found that what is easy in the short-run often makes things more difficult in the long-run. We are an “instant society” and that can cause difficulties for our health in the long term.

  3. Cindy Prosor says:

    Great article! Like so many things, it’s important to take responsibility for what we are modeling for our kids. I remember telling my kids stories of how I didn’t like avocado when I was a child yet as a teenager it became my favorite food. It helped to remind them it was possible for their tastes to change too.

  4. Thanks for this one! I have a kiddo that used to eat everything – then after my divorce when he had two different styles of parenting happening and different food choices – ended up not wanting to eat a lot of what I put in front of him – don’t know whether that counts as “picky” but the experience has been similar – he’ll also eat stuff elsewhere that he won’t eat here. I just keep making sure I have good choices in the house – if he’s hungry enough eventually the food gets eaten!
    Amethyst Wyldfyre recently posted..Successful Business Women – Affiliate with Their CATMy Profile

    • Vitaerobics says:

      You know, it seems like everyone we talk to has their own picky-eater story. It is just so common today! It sounds like you’ve taken a proactive role in your child’s eating, and that’s fantastic. If more parents were as involved as you seem to be, we would have a healthier world! Keep it up!

  5. Karin says:

    This was great. It’s been a bit frustrating having a child who ate almost everything to becoming very picky and not knowing why. I have just trusted that maybe she’ll outgrow it at some point. But it’s good to know that there can be a variety of reasons behind the behavior. Thanks!
    Karin recently posted..What In The Heck Are You Asking?!My Profile

  6. gold account says:

    Most children go through stages of being picky about what and how they eat. Many books have been written about how to get young children to eat a variety of foods, so you can see that this is a common problem, often without a simple solution!
    gold account recently posted..No last blog posts to return.My Profile

  7. This is so great!! I am going to blast this to my world, as it’s so interesting and wise! And I especially echo the fact that the best thing for kids is to model healthy parents!
    Tricia Greaves Nelson recently posted..TV and Weight Gain: Does Watching TV Make you Fat?My Profile

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