How To Prevent Picky Eating

Nutrition

How To Prevent Picky Eating

 

In my kids’ nutrition practice, at least 80% of parents come to see me to address picky eating. This is why I love running workshops on introducing solids and developing healthy eating habits. There is so much that can be done when our children are just starting out on their food journeys to promote a healthy relationship with food and prevent picky eating. This does not mean that your child will be perfect at every meal.   Much of the behaviour we see with young children at the table is completely normal. Where many parents get into trouble is when we try to interfere too much with our kids’ eating. This interference, which can come in many forms, can often turn a “good eater” into a “picky eater”.

Where many parents get into trouble is when we try to interfere too much with our kids’ eating. This interference, which can come in many forms, can often turn a “good eater” into a “picky eater”.

Here are 3 tips to help prevent picky eating:

Don’t wait too long to incorporate your child into family meals:

I often see parents staying in the purée phase way too long or going straight from pureed baby food to what we tend to consider “kid’s food” such as mac n’ cheeses, hotdogs, chicken nuggets and grilled cheese. In my experience, there is a short window of opportunity to introduce new foods to our children and transition them to enjoying a common meal with the whole family. If this window is missed, it can be very challenging to make the transition later and it will typically be met with a lot of resistance.

The more variety you have exposed them to before this stage, the more food options will be available to them once they decide to stop trying anything new.

Offer a variety of foods: 

By the time children reach age two, they are usually experiencing a degree of neophopia – a fear of new foods.   The more variety you have exposed them to before this stage, the more food options will be available to them once they decide to stop trying anything new. Variety should be offered in terms of the type of food but also in terms of how it is prepared and presented. When thinking of meal ideas for toddlers, try to constantly switch things up rather than offer only one shape of noodle, one style of cooking their chicken or one way of slicing their cucumbers.

Since eating is one of the few areas in a toddler’s life that they can control, we tend to see a lot of challenging behaviour at the table. 

Avoid turning mealtime into a battle:

There will come a point in most children’s lives where they will start rejecting foods that are offered to them. For some, this can be the case from day one but for most, this type of behaviour begins in the toddler years. Toddlers are notorious for their difficult temperaments and frequent use of the word NO. Since eating is one of the few areas in a toddler’s life that they can control, we tend to see a lot of challenging behaviour at the table.   This can quickly turn mealtime into a negative experience for the whole family, but only if you let it!

 

In my experience, there is a short window of opportunity to introduce new foods to our children and transition them to enjoying a common meal with the whole family.

If you need strategies for dealing with your child’s behaviour when it comes to eating, here’s another great article I wrote on picky eaters. Addressing the behaviour early gives you the best chance at moving through this phase as quickly as possible.

Read more on healthy eating and recipes for smoothies and yummy kid-friendly muffins.

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Aviva Allen

About Aviva Allen

Aviva is one of Toronto's leading nutritionists with a specialty in Kids' Nutrition. For more info visit Aviva Allen's Website

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