The picky eater picky eater

By David Butler, DO, FAAP

Physicians’ Primary Care of SWF

Many people have encountered a child fitting this description. Perhaps you are one of the parents who has pleaded, begged, bribed or bargained with their child to eat the food you have prepared.  You might have even made airplane or train sounds trying to get one bite of food in your child’s mouth.  I feel your pain.  I have been there.

There are supplemental drinks out there targeted for picky eaters. It is anecdotal evidence, but most picky eaters I see have an appropriate height and weight for their age. Most of these supplements contain greater than 250 calories per 8 ounces.  This is a huge excess of calories for a child with an already appropriate weight. These children need better foods instead of more calories. Some drinks are heavily sweetened and sometimes contain large amounts of sugar.  They also lack important things a body needs from a well-balanced diet such as fiber. 

What does a pediatrician and father of a picky eater ultimately recommend?

First: Patience.  Second: Get your child involved. Make meals fun. Create your own food pyramid and let them select from each category to create a meal. Take your child to the grocery store to help you shop.  Let them see how you prepare the food.  If helps to reward your child’s eating habits, reward them with healthy activities such as a trip to the park or the museum. These types of rewards will teach them to make healthy choices as they get older.  When in doubt, consult your pediatrician, especially if you have concerns about weight or if your child is experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms. 

A picky eater is a challenge but you are not alone. Remember, the habits you teach your child today influence their choices tomorrow.

David Butler, D.O., FAAP,  is a pediatrician with Physicians’ Primary Care of Southwest Florida in the Fort Myers Pediatrics office at 9350 Camelot Drive (239-481-5437), South Pediatrics office at 18070 S. Tamiami Trail (239-481-5437) and the Lehigh Acres Pediatrics office at 5700 Lee Blvd. (239-481-5437).

— familynews
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