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Picky Eating

Posted on 05/16/2013

There's really no such thing as picky eating. There are people with poor diets who make bad food choices. And, there are people who will enable such behavior feeding into it and further adding to the problem. Parents are notorious at enabling children and so-called picky eaters. Those kids grow up to be picky eating adults and generally pass such behavior onto their own children. It's a vicious cycle.

Parents will complain, "Johnny doesn't eat X, Y or Z. He will only eat such and such." Well, consider it a done deal. He won't eat anything but what you state now, since you have declared it time and again to the world. You have branded that child and he will continue such behavior because he sees it acceptable to you. 

You may even cater to the child, fixing a different meal for him than the rest of the family. Some families prepare numerous meals for dinner, giving each child what he/she wants to eat rather than what they should eat. Essentially parents become short order cooks in many situations. He may choose to eat only one to two foods and you allow it. Well, of course he wants to eat this or that, especially if it is not a healthy food choice. But is it a balanced, healthy diet? I think not 99.9% of the time! 

I have always believed and said, feed children what they should eat not what they necessary want to eat. You create a cycle of bad behavior by reinforcing it, if you allow such bad behavior. It really isn't the child's fault, I blame the parents who are trying to be the kids friends and not their parents. We parents have a responsibility to make difficult decisions for the welfare of our children. It isn't a matter of having the children always like or understand why we make the choices we do. However, the parent who parents instead of letting the child assert control over the relationship will in the end have a better behaved and well-nourished child in this instance than the parent who allows the child to choose what he/she eats on a daily basis. It carries through in all aspects of life.

Having a child that is a so-called "picky eater" is an age-old parenting issue. More and more findings suggest that more can be done to reverse what is only natural with young children to change their course in life so they do not grow up to be a picky eater for life.
So, do feed children what they should eat and do not try to befriend them by caving in to every whim and craving they have. If Johnny doesn't like broccoli the first time, try it again and again and again. It can take 10 or more times (even 100 times) before he develops a taste for it. Try preparing it different ways, maybe steamed broccoli is not his favorite, but raw broccoli is!  Be somewhat creative, but persistent, you are doing him a favor in the long run. Trust me, I run into people all the time who tell me about how their child only eats french fries, soda pop and hamburgers. They are at a loss about what to do. I say, does he/she have a job and buy the food for the family? Well, no, he doesn't he's 8 years old. Well, problem solved. When the child is hungry, he/she will eat. Start by making small, positive changes and as he develops healthier habits continue to make more changes.

post-author

Seattle Sutton, BSN, RN

She made healthy eating her mission in life long before anyone else did, in hopes of helping her own obese father. A registered nurse by training and entrepreneur at heart, she lives, eats and breathes everything about healthy eating and helping to improve people’s eating habits and overall health. She enjoys never having to bother with grocery shopping, cooking and counting calories. Her favorite SSHE meal, although it’s hard to pick just one, is the Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce.

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