Picky Eaters and Personalities

Picky eaters come in all shapes and sizes.

In our house, he happens to be four years old and the very cautious type.  The Little Buddy pictured on the right is, for the most part, a “typical” oldest child.  He’s responsible, sweet and knows exactly what he wants.

He is a very picky eater, and has been pretty much his whole life.  His brother, on the other hand, will eat almost anything you put in front of him.  So far.  I am sure his day will come when he will exercise his independence and push away certain foods.

Picky eaters can make mealtime challenging as a family.  If you are dealing with a picky eater in your family, here are some tips for keeping peace at the table:

1.  Keep it positive.  Do not draw negative attention to the picky eater.  This will most likely cause the situation to be worse by embarrassing the child or pushing him/her even further to being picky.

Rather than talking about how picky he or she is, talk positively about the foods that the family will be eating and how you know he or she will like it one day if he/she tries it.

2. Avoid comparisons.  No one really likes to be compared to someone else.  And especially their sibling.  Though you may wish that your picky eater would eat the plethora of foods that his or her sibling enjoys, there is no reason to voice this in a negative way.  If anything, you can comment that the sibling really likes it and maybe he/she would too if they tried it.  Your picky eater is his/her own person and comparing does not do any good.

3. Set limitations.  Even if you cannot force your picky eater to eat that broccoli, you can limit what he/she does eat.  You can control whether or not you make the junk foods available to him/her and how much of his or her favorite foods is provided.

4. Keep mealtime enjoyable and as stress-free as possible.  You don’t want your picky eater to have negative feelings about mealtime.  Most likely, if you can keep mealtime enjoyable for the whole family, your picky eater will come around one day.  Though the broccoli may not have gotten in the child, he/she can benefit greatly from a family meal enjoyed at the table.

Dealing with picky eaters can be frustrating, because you so desperately want them to be nourished properly.  Trust me, as a dietitian, I get frustrated and oftentimes on the verge of distraught over the Little Buddy’s picky eating behaviors.

I do, however, keep making the healthy foods he will eat readily available and set limitations on the things he would love to eat all day (anything sweet).

Picky eaters will surprise you sometimes, and just decide one day that they will try a new food.  Don’t give up — just keep modeling good eating behaviors and enjoy your family meals.

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