Picky eaters are a phenomenon that is present in most households and is something that causes a lot of stress in both parents and their children. It leads to hours of fighting around the table, tears (and I do not only refer to those of the kids), worrying about the kids’ nutrition, health and growth and high expenses in trying to supplement the children’s diets.
But, what exactly is picky eating? And when do you need to worry about it? And is their anything you can do about it?
This article will try to answer most of your questions and give you an idea on what might contribute to their behavior. It will provide you with ideas on how to manage the picky eater, how to supplement their diet and turn your little picky eater into a piggy eater.
But what exactly is a picky eater?
The dictionary gives the following description of the word Picky:
This is very often a very apt and correct description of the picky eater.
Picky eaters often follow a very restricted diet, eating only a limited variety of food groups or food choices.
It can also manifest itself in the way that they eat their food. Like eating different foods on different plates, not allowing their foods to touch one another, or wanting to eat only certain food colours, like the white eaters. Or sometimes they do not want their food to be ‘broken’ and will go into floods of tears when a cookie gets broken.
Variation of Picky Eating Behaviour.
Most children will go through certain stages with their eating habits, and will at certain times exhibit some of the picky eating behaviour. This is normal for most kids as they go through certain stages. It is only a problem if these kinds of behaviour persists and start causing problems in their nutrition.
Picky Eaters might gag or vomit on their food, especially if they are made to eat something that they are not happy with. They may spit up their food on a regular basis, or just hold the food in their mouths for long periods of time, without chewing it or swallowing it.
They often play with their food or hide their food. And they eat significantly less than their age related peer groups.
They often refuse to eat things simply because it is not a specific brand or it is damaged. (The broken cookie).
Sometimes the picky eaters refuse to eat any food, they only want to consume liquids, and they can literally drink litres of fluids per day. Needless to say, that it is almost impossible to potty train this category.
They tend to exhibit strong preferences in they way their food is prepared and presented, and they often dislike certain textures or colours or even whole food groups.
Picky eaters are often lazy chewers or demand to eat the same food at every meal, like only wanting to eat cereal for breakfast, lunch and supper. They tend to prefer junk food to real food.
Mealtimes often turn into battlefields, with the picky eater reverting to temper tantrums, or turning the whole table into a mess, with food everywhere, except in their tummies where it belongs.
At the end of all of this the moms are usually convinced that there must be something seriously wrong with their child, or that they are bad parents, because what kind of a mom cannot get their baby, toddler or child to eat?
Before you go down this road, lets look at the statistics of picky eaters, and then realize that you are not a bad mother and you are definitely not alone in this battle.
About two thirds of all children go at some time of their life through a picky eating stage. It can start as young as 4 months, but it is very prevalent around the age of 2 years. The good news is that most children outgrow their pickiness around the age of 4-5 years of age.
Some children go on to adulthood though with their picky eating behaviour. This is referred to then as a selective eating disorder. But if it gets completely out of hand and an adult start developing an outrageous fear of trying a new taste, it is called food neophobia.
Picky eating is equally prevalent in all races, sexes and income groups, making it a problem across all borders.
Follow up on this article later in part 2….