For those who’ve never had a problem with potatoes viciously touching the meat on your plate like in Michelangelo’s famous fresco “The Creation Of Adam,” eating is like a walk in the park. When the sun it’s out, it’s fun, and when it’s raining, you just try to get it over with.
But for the gang of picky eaters, having food go into your stomach is something not to be taken light-heartedly. You gotta calibrate, engineer, and foresee the products, tastes, and combinations before they hit the tongue, and even then, there should always be a plan B.
So this time, we’re gonna see what picky eating is all about, as shared by the selective foodies themselves, who seem to have an excellent sense of humor. From having your friend’s mom tell you she’s made food for you to that cursed feeling when seeing the menu in a restaurant feels like you made a mistake, these are some real-life situations but with a humorous twist.
If you, your family member, or your friend is what is commonly known as a “picky eater,” the chances are it didn’t happen overnight. The term refers to someone who’s selective about their food, unwilling to try new foods, and has very strong food preferences, which makes fussy eating classified as a feeding and, later in life, eating difficulty.
Many of these fussy eating behaviors start appearing in early childhood, and in order to find out what exactly is fussy eating in kids and the tactics to help it, Bored Panda reached out to the baby and child nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed. Charlotte is an award-winning author who specializes in positive, evidence-based advice on giving children a healthy start in life.
There are so many reasons why little ones might start being fussy about their food, says Charlotte. “First off, it’s a very natural part of their development, a phase often known as 'neophobia'—a fear of the new.” It turns out, it has to do with an evolutionary response, explains the child nutritionist.
“As soon as babies and toddlers start becoming more independent and moving around more, ultimately, it may protect them from eating something they shouldn’t (but doesn’t stop them from trying to eat pen lids and small toys though… strangely)."
Moreover, Charlotte adds that there is also a genetic element to fussy eating as “some individuals may be more likely to reject more tastes than others. Additionally, research also shows that some children just have more sensitive perceptions of taste (Mennella et al 2005).”
Among many reasons, some fussy eating can be attributed to learning from parent feeding practices and mealtime behaviors.
Having said that, Charlotte has good news and it’s that “you can do something about fussy eating, even if a toddler is genetically predisposed to reject more foods.” The children nutritionist also said that those parents who have a fussy baby/toddler shouldn’t feel like they’re alone in the world.
“I run Fussy Eating Webinars for parents regularly and know it’s a really common and that many parents face fussy eating difficulties every day, especially with children between 18 months and 3 years of age—but it can happen at any time.”
Most importantly, there are many strategies and tactics that can help little fussy eaters and broaden the foods they’re eating. Charlotte shared a couple of them.
“Start their weaning journey with VEGGIES—some research actually shows that offering vegetables as baby’s first foods and offering them regularly through the first years of life can increase acceptance of them later on in childhood! I go into detail about how to do this in my new book How to Wean Your Baby.”
Another tactic is what Charlotte calls the “Role Model.” “It might sound simple, but eating similar foods at similar times as your children can really influence their dietary patterns. One specific study even showed that the more often children ate the same food as their parents, the better the quality of the children’s diet.”
The third strategy to try has to do with your own reaction to a fussy eater. Charlotte suggests not taking rejection literally since “there are so many reasons why kids will reject a meal e.g. overtired, over-hungry, over-grumpy, already full, sore teeth, a cold—I could go on and on, but sometimes they just simply don’t feel like eating what is on offer.”
According to the child nutrition expert, “adding foods to a 'rejected' list only goes to limit their diets more.” Instead, she suggests that parents keep trying those foods and keeping their kid's diet varied because “one day, they might eat it.”
Most importantly, Charlotte’s key tip has to with “making mealtimes light, fun, and enjoyable, as much as you can.” Try not to overstress, but enjoy the moment of discovering new foods even if they get rejected at first. “This can make all the difference in the world,” Charlotte concluded.
For more helpful tips on dealing with picky eaters from an early age, visit her website “Sr Nutrition.”
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