Picky eaters may be born that way: the ability to taste sweetness and bitterness may be genetically related to the number of taste buds on a person’s tongue. The so-called genetic supertaster, for example, may have as many as 1,100 taste buds per square centimeter of tongue, while a more accepting eater may have as few as 11 taste buds in the same-size area [The Yale Guide to Children’s Nutrition edited by William V. Tamborlane, M.D.].
Despite this genetic wiring and such sensitive taste ability, a child can learn to enjoy foods he didn’t care for at first. Here are some tips to help accomplish this.
- Increase familiarity. If at first you don’t succeed in interesting your youngster in a food, try, try, again! Children may require as many as ten exposures to a new taste before they begin to like it.
- Play with your food. Nutritionists now encourage preschoolers to have fun with food by making food faces or shaping a meal with cookie cutters.
- Add a dash. If your child still won’t take food risks, try modifying certain items by adding a little of something they do like.
- Never force a child to eat. Children know when they are hungry or full, so trust them to be able to tell the difference.
A study from the American Dietetic Association showed that even though 49% of mothers considered their children to be picky eaters, all of the children in the study actually consumed a wide enough variety of foods to meet their nutritional needs.
While a picky eater may become less so over time, if very selective eating habits continue for years, it can result in the development of nutritional deficiencies and food allergies, if they are not already present.
Signs, symptoms & indicators of Picky-Eater Syndrome
Not being a picky eater
Risk factors for Picky-Eater Syndrome
Food allergies are sometimes addictive in nature, requiring continued consumption of the allergenic food in order to prevent the appearance of withdrawal symptoms. However, eating the same foods over and over increases the likelihood of eventually becoming allergic to them.
Picky-Eater Syndrome suggests the following may be present
|Strong or generally accepted link|
|Very strongly or absolutely counter-indicative|
Hypersensitivity caused by exposure to a particular antigen (allergen), resulting in an increased reactivity to that antigen on subsequent exposure, sometimes with harmful immunologic consequences.