ARTICLE #2: Are your kids REALLY picky eaters?

BLOG 7/10/13 – Camp Challenge Me    ccm 002

Are your kids REALLY picky eaters?

Here is the controversial question, is your kid or teen really a picky eater OR were they taught to be picky eaters? Is it them or us as their care-takers? Since I’ve been working with parents and kids in developing healthier lifestyles, it is something I hear quite often. I’m just going to put some words out there as food for thought. Our taste buds indeed exist and tell us whether something is sweet, sour, bitter, or salty. We have different opinions as to what tastes good or bad. HOWEVER folks the problem is usually something more, especially when I hear the parent say that the child won’t eat ANY fruits or vegetables. This is a huge problem and as a parent you can’t give in so much that the child now controls you. If you don’t nip it in the butt when they’re young, you are in big trouble when they become a teenager. There is a balance of choice and proper introduction of foods.

If the child is making good food choices, GREAT! I encourage their involvement in the kitchen as well. Having families cook together, sit at a table together, and eat together (minus T.V.) is a great way to improve eating habits and health. It sparks conversation and allows eating portions to be in moderation as opposed to distracted eating, which occurs by watching T.V. or being on a computer/cell phone while working. Do your best to stop distracted eating and make the time to sit and JUST EAT, no electronics. On the flip side if the child pushes the healthy stuff away, ask why? Is it due to taste or is it behavioral? How do you react? Did you give them other options? If so, what options? Are they mirroring you and your eating habits? Are they mimicking your rejection of healthy foods?

If your child has some key items they just don’t like, fine they don’t eat them. I can’t stand parmigian cheese or liver… “no thank you” as opposed to “yuk”! But if they don’t like ANY fruits, ANY vegetables, or ANY items that are healthy foods… this is a huge problem. This is not a taste thing, it’s a behavioral thing and they simply have been allowed to get away with choosing only unhealthy foods. NOW hold on!!! Don’t get crazy, I’m not saying force food down their throats! In fact it is proven to force foods only makes it worse. I’m simply saying to be aware of where this habit began and your reaction to it. If you allowed them to skip healthy all together and now they only eat junk food, well? Who does the grocery shopping and/or cooking? Exactly, so buy several healthy choices for them and guess what… they won’t starve. If they know how to get you to give in, they will always get you to give in. Be firm otherwise it’s McDonald’s tonight, Pizza Hut tomorrow night, and Taco Bell Saturday. Sorry but be a role model, don’t expect them to do something you are not doing folks! This includes EXERCISE! Introduce different choices of healthy foods, it’s impossible for them to hate all of it. Also cook together and get them involved in the decision making it will give them a sense of pride about what they prepared. They will be more likely to enjoy it.

Take these words from Ellyn Satter, therapist and dietitian:

Feeding demands a division of responsibility.Grownups provide the what, when, and whereof feeding, and children do the how much and whether of eating. Child care providers and parents can provide a variety of attractive, wholesome food in pleasant surroundings and work together to ensure positive meal and snack time. After that, it is up to children to eat. They have their own kinky ways of going about it. Taken on a day to day basis, it can look like they aren’t accepting foods at all well. But over the long term, children do eat, and they do learn to like a variety of food”

Now again don’t get upset with me, I’m in it for their health and fitness! Today over 33 percent of children are overweight and unhealthy. My best advice is to get them involved in the kitchen. Make healthy homemade pizza (whole wheat dough, easy cheese, thin crust, loaded with veggies they like). You can even make homemade turkey hamburgers (whole wheat bun and loaded with veggies they like) and a side of baked sweet potatoes. It will give them a sense of pride in what they cooked and it can actually be a fun bonding time for your family. YO GO OLD SCHOOL ON THEM and make it an eventful thing. Slowly but surely add healthy items and experiment. Try new and different healthy recipes, including healthy desserts! This rule goes for all ages, involve them in the decisions, but be firm in including healthy items, don’t forget exercise!

Suggested Reading… Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family: How to Eat, How to Raise Good Eaters, How to Cook by Ellyn Satter

Here for HEALTH!  Giovanna Ferraro