Overcoming Picky Easters

Picky Eating is the common term for what Picky Eaters do. These children are hard to please and to feed in general, but they rarely end up starving themselves. Patterns of “over-selecting” food are common among children with developmental disorders, but they are also common among all children. Estimates vary widely among studies, but in a recent report, the estimate was about one-fifth of all children.

Children with developmental complications often have real issues with the sensory textures and flavors of food or they have had trouble chewing or swallowing and unpleasant experiences with food, therefore, they tend to be less flexible when it comes to things in general, and less flexible than most when it comes to food.

Picky Eaters can eat a lot. What they constrict mainly are the types of food they’ll eat, or the conditions under which they will eat. The most common type is the kid that prefers the “all brown” diet, as one father put it, and that consists of fried, starchy, sweet and salty foods that have great appeal for children.

The Picky Eater’s Favorites
Nuggets, Taquitos and other Breaded, Fried foods
Potato Chips, French Fries, Tater Tots
Pizza (Plain or Pepperoni)
Spaghetti (Plain, maybe Meat Sauce)
Macaroni and Cheese
Grilled Cheese
Peanut Butter (Jelly maybe)
Hamburgers (plain and without cheese)
Hot Dogs (plain)
Candy, Cookies, Cake (a few kinds)

There is of course some variation among picky eaters, but they tend to like the menu above. Now think of every fast food restaurant that caters to children and what is on their menu. They all tend to behave in the same ways when it comes to food. Picky Eaters won’t eat many of the foods the rest of your family likes and eats all the time. They can find some foods so disgusting that they actually gag when they smell it.  Picky eating can come along with other rigid rules imposed on food: foods cannot touch each other; some foods can only be eaten from certain plates or cups or from certain places (only McDonald’s French fries), and so on.  There is no doubt a psychological component to this.

Why are Children Picky Eaters

Picky eating is actually a useful survival strategy that kept us alive since we were all hunter-gatherers. For many thousands of years, we traveled in small tribes from one new place to another. If we ate every plant along the way – we wouldn’t be here. Children that were too adventurous (not picky enough), would poison themselves on any of those many plants that were trying to kill us. Their genes never made it this far.

Click here to read the rest of the article at Autism Parenting Magazine.

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