Quinn on Nutrition: How to deal with picky eaters

September 1, 2017

I try not to take it personally when my grandkids donít like what I cook. Vegetables? Letís just say ó thanks to concerted efforts on the part of mom, grandmaís and their excellent preschool staff ó these little ones are expanding their nutritional horizons.

Games sometimes work.

Frances: "I donít like that, Grammy."

Me: "Oh good, because this food is only for grownups. When you get older, youíll really like it."

Frances: "I want to try it!"

Me: "Iím not sure Ö but Ö OK."

Frances: "I like it!"

What makes some kids pickier eaters than others? One reason may be differences in personality, according to a new study in the Journal of Child Psychology. Researchers observed how 136 infants responded to new foods and new toys during their first 18 months of life. They discovered that infants who were reserved about new toys also tended to be less accepting of new foods. That suggests a link between personality and attitudes about food, say the authors.

Donít give up just because your child is less than enthusiastic about downing his zucchini. Other research consistently shows that infants and children can learn to accept new foods if their caregivers continue to offer them. It may take as many as eight to 10 offerings before a child learns to accept certain foods.

And itís never too late to start. Flavors from what a mom eats during pregnancy and lactation get passed on to her baby, says Julie Mennella, a biopsychologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. So if a mother eats vegetables during these early years, her infant is familiar with the taste of those foods when they are introduced.

A recent clinical trial conducted by Mennella and her research team found that breastfed infants whose moms drank carrot and other types of vegetable juices were more likely to accept the flavors of these vegetables when they began to eat solid foods. Another bonus: Moms also developed a taste for vegetables during the time they drank the vegetable juices.

Regardless of what tricks we pull to get our kiddos to eat healthier, we should not force food on a child.

"All young children are more-or-less picky about food," says child feeding expert Ellyn Satter. "They warm up slowly to unfamiliar foods and may have to see, watch you eat, touch or taste a food several times before they learn to like it."

Demonstrate a positive attitude about food and your child is apt to catch that outlook. Even if you have to sometimes use reverse psychology.




McClatchy-Tribune Information Services