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picky eater

Picky eater? Use these tips to expose them to different foods!

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Do you have a picky eater?
 
My friend’s son only had two food groups for years: McDonald’s and pizza. His parents were incredibly frustrated and tried so many tips and tactics to get him to branch out…and he eventually did but it took several years and this was after exhaustive testing to ensure he did not have sensory processing disorder or food allergies. 
 
I was recently reading in The Natural Parent Magazine about the importance of “exposure” and how it may look a lot different than what we might think. Did you know that all of these count as EXPOSURE? ⁠

(Photo: Kid friendly meals)

How do you deal with picky eaters? Here are some insights:
  1.  Limit snacks and drinks. Most feeding clinics ask parents to record what their child has eaten and drunk for at least the last three days. “When we look at these records, we see that a lot of kids who resist new foods eat snack foods or drink all day long, which limits their hunger for foods at meals,” says Nancy Entgelmeier, a pediatric nurse practitioner.
  2. Reintroduce. Even when the food gets ignored, simply seeing it takes the newness out. The next time they see it, they’ll go, “ooh! I know you!” Now, it may continue to get ignored for awhile, but if you stop offering, then you’ll miss that chance of when they do decide to give it a try.⁠
  3. Break from bribes. Tempting as it may be, try not to bribe your children with treats for eating other foods. This can make the “prize” food even more exciting, and the food you want them to try an unpleasant chore. It also can lead to nightly battles at the dinner table.
  4. Playing – touching, smelling, tearing it apart, crushing, throwing…you get the idea. So frustrating to see as parents (don’t let them sense this!) but this is actually really great stuff! Let them explore till their hearts’ content!⠀⁠
  5.  Involve kids in meal planning. Put your toddler’s growing interest in exercising control to good use. Let you child pick which fruit and vegetable to make for dinner or during visits to the grocery store or farmer’s market. Read kid-friendly cookbooks together and let your child pick out new recipes to try.
  6. Tasting – kissing, licking, putting on the tongue, spitting it out…the tongue has the tastebuds so even though food doesn’t get eaten, your child still got exposed to the flavor. That’s HUGE!  Repeated flavor experiences help promote the willingness to eat a variety of foods.⠀⁠
  7. Eating – involves chewing and actually swallowing. Hallelujah! the food finally makes it into the belly. For those of you who are just beginning their baby weaning journey, some kids didn’t eat much of anything until about 2.5 weeks into starting. And this is quite normal and to be expected. But he was doing a lot of tasting! So don’t be too concerned and continue to provide plenty of opportunities for them to explore food!⠀⁠
  8. Go at your own pace. You may think it’s ridiculous to puree foods for your 5-year-old, but that’s exactly what they sometimes do at feeding clinics. “We might try reducing the texture to a smooth consistency, which makes it easier for the child to consume a new flavor,” says Dr. Girolami. “As the sessions go by, we make the puree chunkier and chunkier until a couple of months later, when your child will be able to eat the actual food[s].” 
If you are concerned about your child’s diet, talk with your pediatrician, who can help troubleshoot and make sure your child is getting all the necessary nutrients to grow and develop. Also keep in mind that picky eating usually is a normal developmental stage for toddlers. Do your best to patiently guide them on their path toward healthy eating.
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