Sometimes, in seeing children in my office who are picky eaters, I discover that one or both parents are actually picky eaters, too. Studies show that food preferences for young children are determined by the mother’s food preferences. In addition, they found that most food preferences were set by age 2 to 3 years of age and in addition, the number of foods liked at age 4 was a strong predictor of the foods they liked at age 8 (J Am Dietetic Assoc. 2002;102:1638)
So what is a picky eater parent to do? Well, it is important that we be role models for our children, so trying and tasting new things should be an important part of raising our children. Also, work to offer your children a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and try to limit an overabundance of processed food choices, even if there are things you are not particularly fond of, you may find your children will like it. Have a challenge where a family member can choose a new fruit or vegetable to buy that everyone has to taste. Quinoa? Couscous? Passion fruit? Mango? Kale? Calabaza squash? Parsnips? See the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website for the Fruit and Vegetable of the Month calendar for ideas for exotic choices and recipes. Make it a challenge for yourself and your family to broaden your horizons…who knows, you may discover some new things you like!