Pickey Eaters 101

Pickey Eaters 101

I saw a book in the book store the other day called, “I Was a Really Great Mom Before I had Kids.” Which really does sum it up, right? Pre children I thought that feeding your children properly was simply a matter of preparing healthy food and keeping junk food out of the house. Isn’t that sweet? Now that I have two kids who have very clear ideas about what’s good (everything as far as Julian is concerned) and what’s not (quite a few things in Esme’s mind) I see it very differently.

I asked my dear friend, dietitian and mother of Isabella and Sophia, Katrina Keinast, for some insight into how to handle the pickiest of eaters: children.

Q: In your experience as a dietitian and as a Mum, what’s really going on with picky eaters? Do they really enjoy fewer foods or is it a way to assert control?

A: I have one child who is very picky and one who likes food in general. My older picky one is very strong willed and very stubborn and yes, I do think refusing to try foods is a way for her to be controlling.  But I think there are kids who are tasters and non-tasters. I can attest to this because I have one of each! They say you might have to offer a new food up to 20 times before a child will try it, well, my picky eater has been offered things probably 75 times and still won’t try it! My younger one shouts at me in the grocery store to buy her sushi and my older one wouldn’t try it in a million years.

Q: Do you think of a child’s diet in terms of a well-rounded meal or is it better to think of a well-rounded day or even week of meals?

A: I usually do try to make each meal as well rounded as possible (the dietitian in me) so that a meal has some kind of protein, complex carbohydrate and a fruit or vegetable. Of course life isn’t perfect so it doesn’t always happen. Because my picky eater has a limited vegetable repetoire we do lots of smoothies (which she loves) where I put in a handful of spinach, or even well chopped kale, frozen berries, with yogurt or dessert tofu for protein. If there is left over smoothie -I turn it into popsicles for the younger one.

One thing I do give both my girls is vitamin D drops. I actually give it with a teaspoon of Omega 3 lemon flavoured fish oil which they both take happily. Shocking, I know. I also give a calcium supplement as they don’t quite get enough from their diet.

Q: Is picky eating something kids can grow out of?

A: I know for sure kids can grow out of being picky eaters. I have a friend who grew up eating nothing but oranges and Wheatabix cereal with milk. She now eats pretty much everything. I think if you have a picky eater the best thing to do is to role model healthy eating and keep offering! Get them involved in some of the grocery shopping and cooking. Look at the big picture – is your child healthy and growing? My older one is so I try to focus on that and not make meal times a battle ground.

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