Tips for parents of picky eaters

A yogurt, no? Kathleen Chiu’s four year old daughter Julianne definitely has her opinions when it comes to meal time. When I do to the grocery store I know there are five hundred kinds of vegetables and fruit and I buy the same three all the time. About one third of parents say their child is a picky eater and in many cases, registered dietitian Annie Hoang says it’s nothing to worry about. It’s one of the few ways children can exert an influence on their parents and caregivers and that’s through eating or not eating. Hoang says it’s a natural stage of developing some independence. But there are some things parents can do. Introducing a variety of foods in the toddler ages are crucial because of that window of time and when children get older it’s hard to accept new flavours. Parents also need to keep in mind that kids are more tuned in to their satiety cues than adults. Also, a child’s appetite will fluctuate at various stages. We are so used to seeing our portion sizes that as adults we forget that kids have a smaller tummy and they don’t need as much food. That means don’t bribe them into eating that extra bite by promising a cookie. When approaching meal time, Hoang recommends a division of responsibilities. Parents decide what, when and where to eat. Children decide whether to eat and how much. It can help to involved a child in preparing meals, but don’t cook them a separate. One family meal, no short order cooking. Hoang says you can monitor your child’s growth with your family doctor. Seek their advice to make sure your child is getting the nutrients they need and to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to a change in growth. And unless your health care provider gives you specific instruction otherwise, rely on healthy food options instead of supplements. What would you like to have for supper tonight? Pizza? Kathleen says even though her daughter has a small list of foods she’ll eat, she’s not concerned. Overall she’s healthy, growing and learning so I try not to get too worked up about it. Good advice knowing that childhood is filled with stages that will eventually pass. With Sunnyview, I’m Monica Matys.

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