Desire to consume foods containing carbohydrates, fat and sugar, insisting on a diet consisting of only a few foods, supporting growth, refusing most healthy foods… The problem of picky eating in children is the fearful dream of parents.
The tension experienced at every mealtime, the entire focus on the child, and the attitude of forcing the child to eat drags the parents into an inextricable despair. Although the problem of picky eating disappears by itself towards adolescence in some children, it can last for many years by negatively affecting the physical, emotional and social development of some children. Psychologist Feyza Bayraktar gave advice to families about children who choose to eat excessively.
Picky eating problem is among the most common eating problems seen in preschool children, especially 5-6 year old children. Stating that children who use their food preferences mostly from foods with high carbohydrate, sugar and fat content, such as potatoes, pasta, rice, sweets, may experience developmental problems due to inadequate and unbalanced nutrition. Feyza Bayraktar says that even if their weight or energy intake remains within normal limits, health checks of children who choose to eat excessively should be done regularly.
Choosing food is not the problem itself; It is the result of an existing problem.
To controlling parents, “You can control everything; But children who set boundaries with the message "I don't eat what I don't want", and the need to determine their own individual space, "I'm here, take care of me. He may be trying to get his parents' attention with the message "I need attention". In addition, situations that make him feel out of control, such as changing schools, problems with friends and being exposed to peer bullying, also play a major role in the child's eating behavior.
Don't let all your focus be on what the child eats or not!
It is not unwarranted for parents to worry about the problem of picky eating. In particular, children who choose to eat excessively consume only certain foods and refuse to eat other foods, which will negatively affect their development. For this reason, it is very important to make regular health checks of the child and to act in accordance with the doctor's recommendations.
The fact that parents focus on what the child eats and does not eat and that this issue is kept on the agenda frequently may cause the child to feel under pressure. In this process, attitudes such as whether he chooses to eat only at home or whether his eating behavior differs when he is with his friends at school should also be evaluated. Observing the child's eating behavior comprehensively will help parents with the message they want to convey.
Do not reward or punish over food
The promise that "if you finish your spinach, I'll give you chocolate" can cause a child's mind to associate certain foods with a reward. Thus, the child will accept some foods as "rewards" and classify others as "forced foods". However, making the child aware of the effects of food on development and health from an early age will help him establish a healthier relationship with food. In addition, rewarding the child with food when he scores high on an exam or falls and cries will also lead him to eat whenever he wants to reward or console himself throughout his life.
Do not try to force the child to feed the food he does not want.
Stating that one of the biggest mistakes families make is trying to force the child to eat the food they don't want or to prepare a meal consisting of only the foods they eat, Bayraktar says that with this attitude, the families unintentionally cause the problem to last longer. Bayraktar said, “Trying to force a child to eat may cause children not to hear the signs of hunger and satiety for a certain period of time and make it a habit to keep control with their eating behavior. For this reason, children should never be forced. The important thing is to understand the message that the child is trying to give with the behavior of choosing food and to support him in this regard.
Prepare creative presentations by mixing them with the foods they love to consume.
Bayraktar, who suggested to parents who are faced with the problem of picky eating, to make creative presentations by mixing the foods that the children do not want to consume with the foods they like, continued his words as follows: For example; It can be served by mixing peas with rice or adding leeks to a pastry. Presentations that appeal to the child's eyes can also make it easier for him to consume foods that he has not eaten. Plates, cutlery, smiley-faced sandwiches or creative recipes with the patterns of their favorite cartoon characters will also help children break the wall about foods they don't consume.”
Stating that parents should be patient with their children with picky eating problems, Bayraktar underlines that a physician should be consulted in this regard and a specialist should be consulted for psychological support when necessary.