Child Nutrition · Dietetic Internship · Topic of the Week

Topic of the Week: “Picky Eaters”

I started my first day of rotations today!

Just a little overview of what I did today: I learned about the preschool I’ll be working at and what type of children are typically there (they get a LOT of HeadStart kids, about 75 of the 115).  Once I had my little orientation, my preceptor left to go move her son into the dorms leaving me to refresh on my child nutrition knowledge (which was non existent this morning).  I did that for about 15 minutes and then got asked if I could help entertain the children at the parent orientation.  The OSU student intern was completely overwhelmed keeping track of about 20 children so she and I kept them corralled and quiet for about an hour.  Teachers, I commend you.

After that I read all about the Child and Adult Care Nutrition Program (CACFP) and the requirements it has for foodservice delivered in facilities like the one I’m at.  I took my lunch a little before noon and when I came back my preceptor was back!  She gave me an overview of my projects and how to find the previous interns work to use as an example (which has already been so helpful!)  Then I was set lose to do some research, dig through some handouts, and brainstorm for my projects.  For about the last hour and a half I helped assemble a binder of information about allergies, special diets, and medications for the kids.

The day went by quickly and I LOVED that my preceptor immediately went into asking me the “if you were the RD in this case, what would you do” kind of questions.  I think that a lot more learning happens when you give incorrect answers in some situations, since you remember more of why the answer was wrong and what is the right answer, and I had a few moments of those today.  This is truly a learning experience and I have already learned a lot!

So what’s up with the picture at the beginning?

I have chosen my topic for one of my projects: picky eaters.

I noticed there was a heavy emphasis, as there should be, for parents providing a variety of foods to their children.  As I saw this information over and over again I noticed there was nothing about picky eating provided to the parents.  So a light bulb went off.

How frustrating would it be to have a preschooler, have all this information about the variety of food you should be feeding them, and having them resist almost all of it?

It is not uncommon for children, especially those of preschool age, to show resistance to trying new foods, only want to eat certain foods, have very distinct color and texture aversions, and waste time at the table “playing” with food instead of eating it.  In fact, that’s about as normal as a preschooler can get.

I am not a parent myself, so I can’t identify with someone who has had this experience, but I know it has to be incredibly frustrating.

So what are some tips to get kids interested in food and stop the picky eating pitfall at meal times?

Getting children involved in the meal planning and preparation process can greatly help.  Let kids pick out fruits and vegetables at the store that they want to try.  Depending on the child’s age and ability, let them help out making the food and then let them try what they helped make.  Since meal times can often be an unpleasant experience for picky eaters try to focus on positive things instead and make meal time fun again!  No one likes to be told what to eat, so let your child pick what and how much they want to eat.  Giving them the option of picking between two dinner vegetables or two fruits at breakfast will make them more in control of what they’re eating.  Lastly, make sure the entire family is eating the same thing.  If they see everyone else trying something, they might be more apt to try it themselves.

Picky eating is not something that will change overnight, but it is possible! I am living proof of that.  The child that would only drink milk now enjoys other beverages as well!

There is hope!

If you want more information on this topic, I encourage you to check out http://choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers/picky-eaters.html.  All the information I provided in this post was based on information I found there.

I’ll be back on Friday with a week recap!

Happy HUMP DAY!

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