Identifying & Understanding your picky eater |

Identifying & Understanding your picky eater

The picky eater

Picky eating is often a concern for mothers who worry about their children receiving enough good nutrition. Good nutrition is instrumental in helping to provide a strong foundation to a child. The picky eater typically:

  • Complains often about what is served
  • Refuses food – especially vegetables and meats
  • Pushes, hides or throws food during mealtime
  • Eats the same food for all the meals
  • Resists trying new foods
  • Eats exceptionally slow
  • Eats sweets and fatty foods instead of healthy foods
  • Has bouts of eating only one thing all day
  • Snacks instead of eating a meal
  • Often throws tantrums at mealtimes

Why do children act this way?
Causes may include:

  • Past history of physical reasons for difficulty in eating
  • Changes in appetite associated with overall growth
  • Extreme sensitivity to taste, smell and texture of foods
  • Dislike for the colour or texture of a certain food
  • A natural tendency to imitate a parent's (or someone else's) picky eating
  • Reaction to punishment
  • Reaction to 'food rewards' given to ensure food consumption

Growth retardation
Growth is the best indicator of nutritional status. If your child is not growing well the cause may be poor nutrition.

Growth can be tracked through growth charts that show the ideal weight and height of your child. You can plot your child's growth on these charts. If you notice a substantial lag, a growth plateau or a negative growth (weight loss) it is best to consult the paediatrician.

Suboptimal concentration and mental performance
Nutritional status influences the mental function of growing children. If your child is a picky eater, important micronutrients may be deficient. This could cause lack of attention and low mental performance in your child. A research team led by Dr. Irene Chatoor studied 88 children ranging in age from 12 to 33 months. These researchers found that children who were picky eaters had lower scores on a Mental Development Index (MDI) than did children who were healthy eaters. The picky eaters had an MDI score of 96; the healthy eaters had an MDI score of 110. When picky eaters were fed nutritional supplements, their attention and concentration improved.