Are your children picky eaters?

Gourmet or fussy eater?

Snuggly, snuggly, sloppy, tricky, uncomfortable, crunchy, ... - there are hardly any other types of behavior as there are so many different dialect expressions as there are for picky behavior when eating, and not just for children. The experts disagree about the causes. Some say that picky food is genetically determined, others speak of faults in upbringing. Children's likes and dislikes about foods and dishes should be respected. A relaxed approach to this mostly temporary behavior and the example of the parents create a good mood while eating.

Children feel how much they have to eat

The eating behavior of children is anything but stable. For days they eat like a sparrow, then they devour large quantities again. This is completely normal and shouldn't worry you in any way. Often the "feeding phases" are followed by a growth spurt. Children have times when they are ready to try something new, at other times they resort to familiar things because they need security. A healthy child has an unmistakable sense of how much food his body needs. Experts argue about whether children also have an unerring instinct for the right choice of food.

Children's taste repertoire unfolds and develops in the first six to seven years of life. Personal experiences related to food during this time shape the nutritional behavior for the whole of life.

Children have finer sensory perceptions than adults

Even taste impressions that adults can no longer perceive - be it too many cloves in red cabbage or the bitterness in chicory - can lead to negative behavior in children. Sometimes it fails because of the texture, color or smell whether a food is liked or rejected. This also explains why some children do not want to taste food at all.

Children often don't like casseroles and soups because they don't see what's inside. Children who helped with the preparation see the food used, value the food they have prepared more highly and then mostly eat from it.

To like something also means to get used to something

Eating only familiar foods is a wise strategy for children. After all, they cannot be sure whether they will actually get the unknown foods. Children first have to get to know the variety of foods and dishes. And that doesn't happen overnight. It is not enough to offer children something new just once to give them a taste. On the contrary: children often test food several times until they know whether they really like it or not. Your kids aren't always in the mood to try something new, either. If food is not liked, accept it and try again at some point. It has nothing to do with you personally.

Fry extra sausage or not?

If your child rejects a dish outright, it won't starve to death because of it. Offer a sandwich or a leftover from the day before as an alternative, but nothing more. With special dishes, they are not doing the child, and certainly not themselves, a favor. Older children are allowed to take responsibility for themselves and “cook the extra sausage” for themselves.

A good role model is the best educational tool

Small children imitate what people do around them. If you regularly bring varied dishes to the table, grab them yourself and eat salads and vegetables with pleasure, this will have an effect on your children. In kindergarten and school, with grandparents or friends, children often eat foods with great pleasure that are rejected at home. Enjoy it and invite other children to eat too.

After elementary school age, it is cool or uncool to eat certain things, and that is rarely determined by the parents. The teenagers' favorite foods often come from international cuisine, also as fast food. There are clear differences in the choice of food between boys and girls. Boys want to eat a lot and more meat, girls want better and more salads. Vegetarian phases of many teenagers should be respected and treated with great serenity. And the catering on school trips often shines a new light on what is available at home. Her good role model works, even if the teenagers don't seem to get anything.

It tastes better in a good atmosphere

A good mood when eating, fixed meal times, a well-tended table and varied food on the table - this is more important than precisely checking whether the child has consumed the right food in the right amount. Avoid lectures on nutritional science, children only eat what they like anyway. For children, “healthy” is not an argument for eating something, “tasty” is more likely.

All family members like to eat certain foods and others less. If the individual wishes are taken into account in the menu, everyone feels that they are being taken seriously and also learns to be considerate of others.

For further reading:
Jesper Juul: What's up today ?, Beltz paperback, 2009
Hanni Rützler: Children learn to eat. Krenn Publishing House, 2007

Source: LEL Schwäbisch Gmünd, Information Service Agriculture - Food - Rural Areas

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