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Recognize a picky eater or picky eater child by eating I Shaio

“picky eater” is the Anglo-Saxon term given to children who are picky or picky when it comes to eating and is related to an alteration in eating behavior that is generally mild, transitory and not related to a nutritional commitment.

It is important to identify the presence of alarm symptoms to consult and rule out organic causes that usually only correspond to a small percentage of cases.

How can you identify if a child is one picky eater?

Although this is a joint task between the parents and the pediatrician who is attending to the child, there is a way to identify this type of behavior:

  • One food is loved more than another.

  • They reject specific foods such as vegetables or certain food groups and prefer others with sugar and flour.

  • Refuses to try new foods or is afraid to try them.

  • Eat a limited number of snacks.

  • He is clear about which food he likes and which he doesn’t.

  • Finds excuses to interrupt mealtimes.

  • Eat very slowly.

If he meets some or all of these characteristics and is aged between 2 and 5 years, he may be a preemie child who has an alteration in behavior but which is usually not related to nutritional alterations, this means that he has a limited intake but the its growth is normal and healthy; another different thing is if the child has some underlying pathology that explains this bad eating behavior, in this case it is very important to visit the doctor.

What factors influence a child to be picky eater?

There are multiple factors that favor this behavior, some of which may be:

  • Maternal factors: if the mother has a restrictive diet during pregnancy or breastfeeding, it is more likely that when the child is exposed to complementary feeding, he will not be familiar with the taste of the food and it will be rejected .

  • Emotional factors: if at the time of eating the child feels distressed by scolding, fussing or complaining, a negative feeling or experience will be generated in relation to food.

  • Sensory relationships with food: not allowing the child to touch, smell or taste the food or to clean it excessively, can generate disturbances that lead to the rejection of food.

  • Parents’ behavior at lunchtime: excessively controlling, forcing the child to eat, permissive with very long eating times, overly concerned with cleanliness throughout the meal, favoring negative associative learning related to these negative experiences.

Can this behavior harm the child’s health?

An important thing to highlight is that the perception that a child is not eating can often be wrong, because we interpret or make assumptions about food.

  • We assume that a child’s food portions should be the same as an adult’s, and this does not correspond to the size of the child’s stomach, usually a portion of protein should be the size of the palm of your hand of the hand and of the carbohydrate, of the child’s foot.

  • Only 5 to 15% of children who do not eat well, Yes they may have an eating disorder that compromises them nutritionally, and of this percentage a smaller group have some disease that justifies an alteration in their behavior.

When to consult the pediatrician?

  • Frequent vomiting

  • Does not gain weight and size

  • Alteration in neurological development

  • Recurrent abdominal pain

  • Pain when passing solid food

  • Persistent or frequent diarrhea

When these symptoms appear and the child is taken to the pediatrician, they will evaluate: the child’s history, how was his pregnancy, if he had episodes of stupor, intubations or the use of probes through the mouth, how the complementary food, etc. all with the purpose of looking at the child’s state of health.

This is very important because it is also necessary to check if the child has illnesses at the time of passing the food, if he has recurrent vomiting, if he has compromises with weight and height gain, and neurodevelopment.

In order to help identify if the primried behaviors in children are just a matter of habit, or if their state of health is really compromised.

Type to prevent a child from being a picky eater

There are very simple techniques and tools that can be applied so that a child does not have this behavior:

  • From pregnancy and during breastfeeding, it is important that the mother has a varied diet, high in proteins and vitamins.

  • The start of complementary feeding must begin at 6 months, and during this stage varied food groups must be included.

  • Guarantee the consumption of fruit and vegetables in the diet every day, from the beginning of complementary feeding.

  • Expose the child to a food several times to find out if he really likes it or not.

  • Prepare food in different ways so that the food is sensory appealing, has a color, texture, smell and taste that is attractive to the child

  • Keep in mind that the portions are appropriate for the child, a portion of protein is the size of the palm, the carbohydrate should be the size of his fist, half of the plate should be vegetables or vegetables.

  • Avoid giving him soups or a lot of liquids at meals, it’s better if he eats dry food first.

  • Try to eat legumes at least 2 to 3 times a week. This group of foods is a great source of protein, vitamins, zinc, iron and other nutrients.

  • Avoid all distractions at lunchtime.

  • Share at least one family meal a day, as it is important for the child to learn to eat by imitation.

  • You choose what the child eats and at what times, not the other way around. What is important is to respect the signs of satiety, the child chooses how much to eat.

  • Keep feeding schedules, a child should eat 5 times a day (3 main meals and 1 or 2 snacks) avoid being fussy all the time.

  • Do not extend meal times, a main meal should last between 30 to 40 minutes and snacks between 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Give him fluids, especially water, about 15 to 30 minutes after a meal, this ensures that he eats all the food and avoids filling up on liquids alone.

  • Try to stay calm, avoid getting angry or aggressive with the child when eating.

  • Allow him to be independent at lunchtime, let him eat alone and help him when he needs it.

  • Don’t link lunchtime to a reward system.

Paying attention to children’s lunchtime behaviors can go a long way in preventing lifelong illness.

This article was advised by Dr. Lina Robayo, pediatrician at Clínica Shaio, master’s degree in Nutrition and breastfeeding advisor.

More information:

Shaio healthy eating goals

Childhood obesity and its negative impact on health Shaio

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