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By Riikka Melartin, Psy.D.
Many parents are concerned about their children being picky eaters. Is the behavior normal? How they can broaden their child’s food choices without creating more problems? Do they need to do so?
It’s good to remember that many young children are picky eaters. Their taste buds are much more sensitive than ours, so foods that are fine for us may taste too strong or spicy for children. This may be why a lot of kids gravitate to what some parents humorously call the all-white diet (refined carbs, bland cheeses and yogurts, bananas etc.) There are a few other factors to keep in mind as you deal with your picky eater:
Generally, if picky eaters go to their regular checkups, are putting on normal weight and engaging in normal physical activities, they’re doing fine. The pediatrician would alert you if they weren’t. However, always check with your pediatrician if you have nutritional questions, if your children’s eating behavior changes suddenly, of if they have rapid changes in weight. Strong emotional reactions around food and eating should also be brought to your doctor’s attention. Such reactions include your child being very anxious about mealtimes, having extreme aversions, being inflexible (for example, having a meltdown if certain foods touch each other,) or being fearful of swallowing. These may be signs of medical, developmental, or psychological issues that need to be further addressed.
Riikka Melartin, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who provides individual therapy, counseling, and consultation for clients who are diverse in age, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Until recently, she also worked as a school psychologist. Look for her monthly blog post about child & adolescent therapy on www.commpsych.com.
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