If you have a picky eater in your family – you are not alone – most American households have at least one.
Picky eating is very common in toddlers, and as long as parents continue to offer a wide range of healthy choices and do not cater to their pickiness, many kids will outgrow this stage. But picky kids can become picky teenagers and even adults if allowed to continue eating “kid food.”
Our bodies need antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to support all cellular functions. Picky eaters generally consume a very narrow range of foods, which tend to be lacking in nutrients and fiber. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies, lowered immune system, constipation, and even other problems like delayed growth and bone strength/ density problems (read Building Strong Bones in Kids). Eating a highly processed diet also increased the risk for weight gain and all degenerative diseases including heart disease and diabetes later in life.
The younger you can start, the better, because as kids get older – their eating habits get more “set” and difficult to change, and they are more independent – making more decisions on their own. But it is never too late to start improving dietary habits – even picky adults can do it! Just don’t expect a picky eater to change over night – for some, it can take months, even years!
SOME TYPICAL PICKY EATER “PROFILES”:
The “Super-taster”– about a quarter of the population has more tastebuds on their tongue than the average – so foods really do taste and smell stronger to them, especially those with bitter compounds like broccoli. But because of the extra taste buds, super-tasters can have very discriminating palates – so if encouraged to develop and expand their palate – they can be the chefs and the sommeliers of the world. It is worth encouraging them to expand beyond pizza and mac n’ cheese – they just might be the next Giada De Laurentiis or Bobby Flay some day! Read: Super-tasting Science: Find Out if You’re a Supertaster to learn more and to get a simple test you can do at home to see if you are a super-taster.
The “Texture-phobe” – is sensitive to the texture of food, they examine foods for lumps and don’t like to “feel” the texture on their tongue. Often, these kids can be more sensitive in other sensory are