By: Danielle Zold, RDN, CLC
If you have a picky eater, you are not alone! Prevalence rates for picky eating can be as high as 25% in kids ages 1.5-6 years old . There are many reasons why toddlers and kids can be selective with what they eat. Some things to consider are their oral-motor skills, sensory concerns, medical conditions, allergies, and even some micronutrient deficiencies. Constipation can often be associated with picky eating.
Nobody wants to eat when they don’t feel well!
3 Ways to Support Your Picky Eater
Lay off the Pressure
Using pressure phrases like “just one more bite of food before you can eat your dessert” can actually lead to more restrictive eating, because it is adding pressure to mealtimes. When kids are stressed, adrenaline is often up. When adrenaline is up, hunger significantly decreases. Creating a positive mealtime environment with very little stress can actually support picky eaters by making mealtimes enjoyable!
Make Food Imaginative and Fun
Another thing that you can try to make mealtimes enjoyable is getting creative with food by arranging it in fun ways on your child’s plate. For example, mac and cheese can be the sand in an island scene. You could use green beans to make a beautiful palm tree and shrimp pieces stacked up to look like the bark. Quinoa makes great hair on a face plate. Tap into your inner kid and get creative!
Take Foods One Step Further aka Food Chaining
Food chaining is the term for taking foods one step further out of your kid’s comfort zone by changing 1-2 things about the food. For example, if your kiddo really likes cheese crackers, but you want them to eventually accept grilled cheese, try offering a regular flavored cracker with sliced cheese. Once that is accepted, try offering a cracker with melted cheese, then eventually small pieces of toast with melted cheese. You can do this process with nearly any food - just keep making small changes as your child accepts new foods.
How Prebiotics Can Complement Your Picky Eater’s Diet
Studies show that when our gut health is balanced and functioning correctly, it may potentially help increase appetite by regulating hunger and satiety cues . Gut health is important for everyone but can be especially important for picky eaters who struggle with appetite.
Prebiotics are tiny fibers that feed the good bacteria in our gut. When our good bacteria are happy, it can make it much easier for healthy stooling - i.e. no constipation! But, chances are, if you have a picky eater, your little may not be interested in eating foods like artichokes or onions where prebiotics are naturally occurring.
Introducing Begin Growing up Prebiotics can be one way to make sure your little one's good gut bugs are fed by incorporating them into foods or drinks your picky eater already accepts. Begin is designed to be tasteless and textureless. Each pack contains an important prebiotic in breast milk and 3g of fiber from chicory root that work to promote healthy, soft stools. Begin may also support appetite regulation .
Foods that contain naturally occurring prebiotics are foods like garlic, onion, leeks, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, bananas, apples, and oats. If you have a picky eater it may be helpful to try to incorporate Begin Growing up Prebiotics that are tasteless and textureless in their food or drink.
3 Fun Ways to Try Begin Growing up Prebiotics With a Picky Eater
Below are some ideas on how to get a picky eater to eat or drink with Begin Prebiotics.
1. Mix Begin Into Hot Beverages
Begin can be used in hot beverages like warm water with lemon, hot chocolate or caffeine free fruit tea (or coffee for mom and dad!). The powder has unique properties that are not damaged with heat.
2. Add Begin to Yogurt Parfaits or Smoothies
Mix Begin powder into yogurt and top with your kiddo’s favorite fruit, nuts, or granola! By mixing with yogurt your little one will be getting both prebiotics from Begin, and probiotics from the live bacteria in yogurt.
3. Bake with Begin
You could also use Begin in favorite recipes like chocolate chip cookies.You can add up to three packets to your cookie dough mix.Other things you could add Begin to include oatmeal, muffins, and even pancake batter! It all depends on your kiddo and what he/she will accept.
Meeting with a Registered Dietitian
If you’re concerned about your kid's picky eating, it may be helpful to meet with a dietitian. Registered Dietitians are nutrition experts who can help make sure your child is getting everything they need to grow and thrive. We can also help give ideas to help your child learn to want to eat. If you feel like you need additional support, I am available for 1-1 consultations at pickyeatingdietitian.com or [email protected].
Danielle Zold is a Registered Dietitian based out of Denver, Colorado. Danielle is owner of Bitty Bites Nutrition, LLC and specializes in pediatric nutrition and picky eating.
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