According to a study in the journal Pediatrics, more than one in five kids between the ages of 2 and 6 are considered “selective eaters.”
As a parent with a child who’s a picky eater, every meal is a challenge. You might think that it is just a phase but your child may not grow out of it anytime soon. And if not addressed properly, picky eating could lead to more serious health concerns and pose detrimental effects to your child’s well-being.
With a very limited diet, daily nutritional needs are not satisfied leading to various vitamin and nutrient deficiencies which can cause these negative effects:
- Weakened immune system, making them vulnerable to more illnesses and disease
- Decreased focus and energy levels
- Decreased cognitive functioning
- Increased risk for weight problems (Underweight or Overweight)
- Dental Problems, if preferred foods are limited to snacks/sweets
Even more, over the course of the study, the researchers found out that children with selective eating behaviors were nearly twice as likely to have symptoms of social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and even depression than kids without issues surrounding food.
It also negatively impacts the social well-being of a child and the parents as a whole with both sides feeling the stress and frustration towards mealtimes.
SAY GOODBYE TO PICKY EATING!
Start Early Prevention
Researchers found that children ages 4 to 9 who are picky eaters tend to keep the habit for a long time. That means early prevention is essential, preferably before a child turns 2. To do this, offer them a variety of food, including lots of fruits and veggies. Don’t cook separate kids’ meals, let them eat what you are eating so be adventurous yourself!
Don’t be too demanding!
Being overly strict with what your child shouldn’t and should eat as well as forcing them to finish their meal makes them more likely to be a picky eater. Slowly introduce certain foods to your child by putting a small amount of it on the plate, even if he or she doesn’t touch it. This will help your child become more comfortable with the idea of eating it and eventually try it.
Make It Fun!
Spark kids interest in trying new foods by presenting them into fun shapes and colors! Kids have great imaginations so play on that to encourage healthy eating.
Set A Mealtime Routine
Set a meal-time routine for the whole family and try to stick to it! Children thrive with routines because it makes them understand what is currently happening and sets their expectations. In this way, they will feel less anxious and more comfortable trying unfamiliar foods.
Provide Tons of Positive Feedback
If a child allows an undesired food to stay on his/her plate the whole meal instead of throwing it or tries an unfamiliar food, let them know how much you appreciate it. Use rewards and incentives to increase cooperation.
Behaviour Plays A Role
Sometimes, picky eating is just a sign of a much larger issue. The study found that children who had difficulty controlling their emotions tended to be very picky eaters. If your child has behaviour challenges a visit to the doctor might be helpful.
Frustrating as it may be, the most important thing to remember is that change takes time and it’s best for a parent not to put too much pressure on their kids. Let them understand that meals should not become a battlefield but instead a fun and enjoyable time where the whole family can sit together while nourishing their bodies.
At ProActiv Sports, we make sure that kids understand the importance of good nutrition aside from enough exercise. To make this possible, we incorporate fun health sessions in our programmes and encourage healthy food choices at camp. By having meals with their peers, kids are also introduced to other foods that spark their interest in trying unfamiliar options.
Did you like this blog? Subscribe to our newsletter for weekly updates. Click here.
ProActiv Sports – More than Just Sports Coaching