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Working with Picky Eaters



Pushy parents can be the bigger problem

kids, picky, food, parents, patience

We know the overt signs of a picky eater and can often remember what it was like for you or a sibling to be pickier when young. Pushing items around on one’s plate. Gagging at the first attempt to swallow an offensive item. Tears and stubborn refusals. Warnings and threats that involve past generations and starving people the whole world over.

Katie Lopez of Louisians’s KATC has researched what’s involved with kids who are picky eaters and ways to deal with such situations.

“It turns out that parents may be to blame,” she points out, noting recent research that came from a five-year study. They followed a group of about 300 children and their parents for during a five-year period. “They found the more demanding and restrictive a parent was, the pickier the child became. They say those parents are creating negative experiences around food.”

The trick, Lopez says, is for parents to NOT insist kids clean their plates, avoid using food as bribes, and instead give their children some control by giving them options while continuing to introduce new foods often without pressuring them to eat it.

She referenced a new mom who was worried about sending her child to bed hungry. She eventually tried a food therapist who suggested pairing foods the kid liked with similarly colored items… Craisins and watermelon, for example, or carrots and Goldfish

What are the signs of a picky eater? A limited diet of less than 10 foods in each category of starch, protein and fruit/vegetables; aversion to foods based on visual, touch, sound, taste, and textural attributes; a dislike of being messy; turning head away from food during mealtimes; oral motor weaknesses such as straw or cup biting, drinking from sippy cup or bottle only, and immature chew patterns; difficulty with weight gain or  needing supplements for weight gain, and most mealtimes or eating out situations proving stressful.

That cure, again? Patience, Lopez stresses. It all takes time.




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