Learn common causes, great tips and the best diets for picky eaters, toddlers, and kids with autism signs to increase food consumption and nutrition in your children.
While it’s best to start giving healthy food for kids right from the beginning, you can still integrate them into their current diet at any time with simple and fun ways that your child will love.
Causes can include sensory defensiveness, food allergies, and lack of exposure to certain edibles. When an individual is sensitive to textures, it can result in oral dysfunction or defensiveness that makes them resistant to try new things or dependent on certain foods that he/she knows are “safe.”
Food allergies or sensitivities can actually not only make a child avoid certain foods because of it tasting funny from the allergy, but it can also make them crave things he/she is allergic to. In fact, for some children that are potentially allergic to wheat and dairy, you may find them only eating foods that contain these. Some of these foods include macaroni and cheese, crackers, pizza, and peanut butter with jelly.
I know it doesn’t seem to make much sense, but our son had started to become one of the worst picky eaters ever and after putting him on a gluten free casein free diet he suddenly started eating all of his vegetables without struggle. He still refuses some fruits (mostly citrus), but I believe this is because he actually might have a sensitivity to these as well or that his sensory issues make them taste too strong for him.
So, I highly recommend checking to see if either of these are actually causing your child(ren) to be picky as well.
If your child does have a sensory processing disorder, then you may want to consider using desensitization methods for helping them adjust to different textures. Positive behavior supports, such as the use of incentive charts to provide rewards for simply trying a new food or even just touching it to his/her tongue may be effective as well.
For other children it may just be a matter of gradually trying to add healthier foods to those he/she already loves, so that the taste for them can be developed over time. Examples of this may include putting spinach in spaghetti sauce, pureed squash or pumpkin in macaroni and cheese, or using ½ whole wheat noodles with ½ regular noodles. For more great tips to use with finicky eaters, be sure to check out the link above.