Why Kids Are Picky When It Comes to Vegetables


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If you know this face you will know that it is a daily battle, a never ending dinner table nagging and a constant bribing game. Why do they do it? Are they born like that? Did you do something wrong? or maybe veggies do bite.

Some of the reasons people end up with picky veggie eaters (the ‘not your fault’ reasons):

  • Children are less tolerant to bitter and sour flavours – this might be a survival technique to avoid poisonous foods (don’t tell your child this).
  • Children are made to select the more energy dense foods – kilogram to kilogram children need more energy than adults. Naturally they will select the more energy dense foods to compensate for this. They also use a lot more energy than adults.
  • Genetic factors – some people may have genetic influences that cause them to avoid new foods (newphobia). Never stop trying!

Some of the reasons people end up with picky veggie eaters (the ‘might be your fault’ reasons):

  • Previous taste experiences. This includes the way new food is introduced and if the parents are eating these foods (a good example). If the mom is trying her best to give the toddler baby marrow and the dad is pulling his face it will definitely not motivate the child to eat baby marrow.
  • Force feeding. There is a place for force feeding, but it should not be a habit or the first “eat your food” tool. Some kids are just naughty, make them sit until they have finished the veggies. If you are sitting with a small child and it is the initial introduction to a new food have a one bite rule. If they took it and they do not like it they do not have to try it again for the next 2 weeks.
  • You need to say no. If it is day 3 of not eating veggies and they still want sweets, you need to say no. Some parents might think it is better for a child to eat something (even if it is sweets). Pick your battles. Day 1 meal 1 they can win, after that you need to win.

Some tips to motivate the eating process:

  • Have regular family meals.  Children are born curious, if you put them near food they will pick it up and hopefully eventually try it. The more they see other people eat, the better the chances are for them trying it themselves.
  • Cook more meals at home.  Let them sit with you while you cook. Talk to them and explain the process, there will be a sense of familiarity between them and the food when it eventually ends up in their plate. Get kids involved.
  • Discourage eating meals or snacks while watching TV. Try to eat only in designated areas of your home, such as the dining room or kitchen. Eating in front of the TV may make it difficult to pay attention to feelings of fullness, and may lead to overeating or distraction that will end up in not eating at all.
  • Try not to use food to punish or reward your children. Withholding food as a punishment may lead children to worry that they will not get enough food or if they come close to food it symbolises everything but nutrition.
  • Keep junk out of sight. Out of sight out of mind…

Picky eaters have never been easy to raise. Try your best to eliminate the things that can make it even harder and victory will be on its way with time. They grow up eventually.

Try the FUTURELIFE® kids range to assist you in meeting their nutritional needs.