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.
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