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If your child is a picky eater, it can be both frustrating as well as concerning. During the formative years, proper nutrition is vital for a child’s development physically, mentally and emotionally. Though research continues to reassess the minimum daily requirements for children, certain basic needs and food group standards are universal.
There are a number of reasons a child is a picky eater. To begin with, children have more taste buds than most adults do. This is believed to have been an evolutionary survival tactic back when our ancestors were foraging for food. Children were more prone to eat poisonous and toxic plants so the additional taste buds made them more sensitive to bitter tastes. It is believe that this is the reason most children still do not like bitter vegetables to this day.
Another reason a child may be a picky eater is because of the diet and life style of the modern family. With our fast pace of life, we seldom have the opportunity to serve our children wholesome, home cooked meals where the entire family sits together for meals. Just the psychology of family mealtime can inspire good eating habits and the lack thereof can create a picky eater.
Fast food inspires picky eaters as well. Most is high in empty calories and low in nutrients. Fast food primarily consists of salt, fat and sugar. High fat intake creates cravings for salt. Salt creates cravings for sugar and sugar creates cravings for fat, then the cycle perpetuates itself. Once the body is out of balance, healthy food is more difficult to reintroduce to your picky eater.
If your child is a picky eater, it is imperative that he or she maintains regularity of mealtimes, especially the biggest meal of the day. Children should not be eating between meals. If your child needs a snack, it should consist of fruits or vegetable sticks rather than carbohydrates and sugar. In addition, snacks should not be eaten too close to meals.
It is best to break these unhealthy cycles by setting a new trend at mealtimes. It is advantageous to change the routine and if possible the environment of the meal. Setting the table in the backyard at a picnic table or in the formal dinning room will break the cycle of kids expecting and preferring the same foods. If this is not possible, even adding a candle or flowers to the table will be enough to change the atmosphere. This will help create new preferences by association. Make good foods interesting and fun.
Mealtime dialog is equally important if your child is a picky eater. Pleasant conversation allows children to associate meals with happy, life supporting experiences. Anger or criticism should not be brought to the table. Meals should be a celebration and coming together of the family. Begin with a prayer of thanksgiving or a few moments of silence. Meals should not be rushed and the focus on healthy, delicious food will inspire your child’s attitude about nutrition.
Children prefer routine and are very adaptable if given the opportunity. In the late 1960’s, several research studies were done where children were offered buffet meals at regular breakfast, lunch and dinner mealtimes. They were offered a wide variety of foods with no restrictions. Within two weeks, most children were choosing a well-balanced meal for the appropriate time of day. With patience and persistence, your picky eater will become a healthy eater.
In theory. it all sounds good. I think I must have the pickiest eater of them all. Our mealtime routine varies, depending on the day and who is home. We sit at the table and I offer at least one fruit and one vegetable, and if that doesn't fly, I break out any and all things from the cabinets, refrigerator and pantry.
Did I mention she is a redhead, which of itself should be enough to make one pause. That being said, I have discovered yogurt smoothies. When in doubt (or rather when in refusal) she will at least slurp down a yogurt smoothie. I figure it is pretty nutritionally sound. I pick the ones that are colored with veggie
She must be getting enough somewhere, because she continues to 'thrive' i.e., gain weight, grow taller, learn new things.
I have renamed her my baby hummingbird because that's about all she eats: enough to keep a baby hummingbird alive. Very frustrating for a parent. She has no qualms absolutely refusing food. Go figure!
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