Community Magazine

Help for a Picky Eater

By Matthewspuzzle @matthewspuzzle
Help for a Picky Eater

Picky Eater

The other day we were at a birthday party and I was talking with the child’s mom. She had ordered pizza for all the other children at the party, except the party boy himself. She explained to me that he refused to eat most foods and had an extremely limited diet. Of course I told her she really needed to try putting him on the GFCF diet, but I also wanted to offer her some tips on other ways to help get her son excited to try new foods. She had not tried very many different strategies and was excited to use a few of these.

Of course I suggested hiding other foods in some of his favorite items. Often there is a textural issues for kids on the spectrum, so pureeing foods and hiding them inside other, preferred items, can make foods and nutrients more accessible. Matthew loves a good smoothie and is willing to accept it with spinach as long as we have the flavor well masked with fruit.

Something else I had learned was to let your child play with the food you want them to try. This means taking the food out of a meal time context. One friend of mine used small foods that were typically rejected by her son, such as a raisin, as a projectile in a tossing game. She started by having her son simply throw the raisin into a cup. Once he was comfortable handling the raisin she had him put it in his mouth and spit it into the cup. As he got better and better at this she would use other foods and asked him to smash them with his teeth first. This is a great way to introduce the food, texture and taste. As the child got more interested in the food and more accustomed to it they may also be more willing to taste and teat the food. You can also paint with things like peanut butter, mashed potatoes or pureed foods. Because the refusal to eat may not always be a dislike of the taste, but more a fear or textural issue, this method can help familiarize the child and make them more interested in the foods.

Another great way to introduce a new food is to make it look like, taste like, or feel like a food they already enjoy. If your child likes crunchy foods like potato chips try making your own healthier versions from foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes or even kale.  If they enjoy chicken nuggets you can try pureeing butternut squash and coating the chicken in that before battering and frying or baking. I like to add pureed carrot or butternut squash to my pizza sauce. Matthew enjoys ice cream but we are limiting his sugar intake so I have recently been making “ice cream” from frozen banana slices and peanut butter processed in a food processor until smooth and creamy. If this was accepted by you child you could try adding small amounts of other frozen fruits or even very small amounts of frozen vegetables.You could also try juicing some foods and adding them to preferred fruit juices. Often the fruit juice can successfully mask vegetable flavors.

These are just simple ways to try to introduce your child to new foods and to increase their nutrient uptake. Sometimes we have to sneak some healthy foods in for our children’s well being. Stay Well!


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