As a mother of 4 year old, I understand a picky eater child. My daughter eats only a few vegetables either raw, baked or sautéed. So, I have to rotate them every day. When I make soup, stew or smoothie, she can eat most of the vegetables. So that’s how she gets vegetables. Also she is picky about what type of meat or fish I cook, or how they are prepared. Definitely she is not the, “let me try first” adventurous person at all. When I was a kid, I wasn’t a picky eater at all and loved to try new dishes, new cuisines, and was totally adventurous. The only thing I didn’t like was a Kids-meal!
There are, however, many extreme picky eaters who only eat certain food such as French fries, chicken nuggets, pizza, ice cream, and so forth. Although many pediatricians says that they grow out of it, Andrea Vazzana, Ph.D., a psychologist who specializes in problematic eating at the New York University Child Study Center says that “… but about 25 percent of kids don’t outgrow their reluctance to try new foods.” A kid who eats a very limited number of items and has a strong negative reaction to unwanted foods are called “selective eater”. “Without the right encouragement to try new foods, these kids may be picky for the rest of their life,” adds Dr. Vazzana. Most picky kids appear to be healthy, but children who reject entire food groups aren’t doing their body any favors. Ditching dairy could mean not getting enough bone-building calcium. Skipping vitamin- and fiber-rich fruits and veggies might lead to deficiencies or constipation. And a poor diet over the long term is known to boost the risk of everything from heart disease to cancer. (source 1)
You may think this is common sense, if you don’t eat variety of foods, eventually you could get serious disease. However, many parents give up on introducing new foods to their picky eaters. One day they may have to pay for it. Seventeen-year-old Stacey Irvine collapsed one day at work and was hospitalized because she had eaten chicken nuggets every single day for 15 years. Doctors diagnosed Stacey with anemia and swollen veins in her tongue, putting her on an emergency vitamin regimen. Stacey’s high salt, high fat diet also raises her risk for future chronic health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Similar case with Claire Simmons, who only eats cheese pizza for 31 years since she was 2 was warned by her doctor that Simmons’ monotonous diet could kill her.
Colorful fruits and vegetables are loaded in vitamins A, C, E, K, and folate. People deficient in these nutrients can have scurvy, vision problems, or blood clotting issues.
Variety is essential for anyone’s diet, Nancy Copperman, director of public health initiatives for North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System in New York said. So even if Stacey only ate something healthier, like carrots, she’d still miss out on key nutrients. People need a diet that’s rich in nutrients, proteins, and fiber, and is balanced to contain fruits, veggies, whole grains and dairy, she said.
However, many of those extreme picky eaters are eating only certain foods not because they don’t like other food but because they physically can’t eat. They can’t swallow the foods, or throw up. According to Picky Eating Adult Support, there are 11 discovered possible causes for picky eating. They are:
Selective Eating Disorder
Taste and Smell Disorder
Sensory integration disorder
I personally don’t like to categorize people who have different conditions than the majority of others, but there are people who are facing serious problems.
Though, there are some interesting findings that show that some picky eaters can have hope. (Or at least can be prevented). Stephanie Lucianovic, who was growing up as a picky eater, became a food writer and wrote a book called “Suffering Succotash”. In her book, she explains that even ‘undertaster’ can become a picky eater like Anderson Cooper who gets no pleasurable impact from food. (Definitely! He eats Boston Market’s turkey meal every day for lunch for months). She added that there is a connection in how food was presented in one’s childhood. “Anderson says that, growing up, ‘all the food we had in the house was Carr’s Water Biscuits and Aquavit.’ Whereas “my husband ( Lucianovic’s) was raised in a house where food, and how something was made, and where the ingredients were from were all discussed at the table, and his parents were really into it, so he grew up with this love for food, even if he was an undertaster.” Also Lucianovic admits that as she growing up she thought vegetables are so bland and didn’t eat at all but found out that was because she grew up with eating frozen vegetables! (source 2)
Also Jae Berman, a registered dietitian shares her story about growing up as a picky eater in her blog because her mother is a ‘supertaster’ (but not her) who eats more bland foods and that’s how she grew up. So, this is another case of how behaviors/environment can affect your entire life and perspective.
If you read through parents’ post about their picky eater kids who didn’t grow out of it by the age of 11 or older, the majority of them were fed with jarred food as baby food. Also the parents serve white crackers, dry cereals, plain pasta, pizza, chicken nuggets, french fries at an early age. Can you see? There is no real food. Those picky eater kids were fed with fake food to begin with. They cannot develop a flavor palette if they start the pleasurable experience of food with synthetic, non-taste junk. Jeffrey Steingarten, a Vogue food critic, traveled around the world to taste the best of the best to learn the new taste and flavor when he started this job.
If you are raising a baby or toddler, re-evaluate the food you are giving your child. If you have a kid who eats nothing but limited carb dense food, I strongly suggest seeing a doctor to find out what would be the cause. I suggest the same thing for adult picky eaters too. Once you find out what the causes are, there should be (not always, but) some type of treatment. Before facing serious stress and fear of being in a social life and health tragedy, take some action to overcome the problems.