Very picky eating is often not just psychological. To be sure, it’s common for average two- year-olds to assert their independence by not wanting to eat vegetables. What I’m discussing is much more significant than this though – as some parents can surely attest. Picky eaters are often children that eat only a few main foods. While these main foods can be anything, they commonly comprise the following: bread, cheese, milk, pizza, grilled cheese, corn chips, potato chips, cookies, yogurt, fruit, and juice.
This is what parents most often report – lots of dairy, wheat, sugar, other food sensitivities like corn, and maybe a little fruit. As you can see from the links below, these foods (when not processed properly) can create chemicals that often are addictive. These children then self-select a very narrow range of foods that meet these (unbeknownst) “needs.”
There are reasons…and solutions.
When these food intolerances are addressed (believe it or not) children often become willing to try new foods and the pickiness goes away or is greatly reduced.
When heavy sugar cravings are creating restrictions in the diet, it’s important to investigate. There are often reasons behind it: blood sugar imbalance, candida overgrowth, and corn sugar or cane sugar sensitivities.
Many children have issues with food texture. Sensory integration therapy is typically helpful (and sometimes vital). Further, as an experienced nutrition consultant I help parents create creative ways to get nutrients and vegetables into the child’s diet while abiding by their texture needs.
Food aversions, seen as picky eating, can actually be a sign that your child cannot properly process a food. Meat is a good example of this. While meat is typically a low allergenic food, some people are unable to digest it, which can create an aversion since the child feels bad (maybe a headache) after eating it.
This is where it gets a bit tricky – determining if pickiness it due to an aversion, or addiction. An aversion can be due to avoiding poorly digested food, a fear, or texture issues. An addiction (for example to wheat and dairy) can appear to create an aversion to something else (let’s say meat) since it creates a single focus and therefore disinterest in everything else.
Don’t despair. While it can be frustrating, your child can get past this. However, it often does not happen automatically. It requires an understanding of why the child is being picky and addressing it accordingly.
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