Do you have a child that refuses to eat fruit and vegetables, or are your children fussy eaters?
What is fussy eating?
Fussy eating and avoidance of fruit and vegetables is a common stage in child development and generally occurs around 2 – 7 years of age where the children’s taste buds are highly sensitive to different tastes and textures. There are many factors that contribute to the avoidance of certain foods including age, personality, gender, social influences and willingness to try foods. Food Neophobia is a term used to describe the avoidance of new and unfamiliar foods whereas picky or fussy eating is when child avoids a variety of foods that are both familiar and unfamiliar.
Why do children avoid eating fruits and vegetables?
These are protective factors which are inborn traits, for example green vegetables are often bitter and bitter is a taste associated with poison which is why some children will not eat their vegetables. Protein foods can be avoided as the children relate protein to animalness and decay. Neophobia is generally due to fear whereas fussy eating can be due to the child seeking control of their life. Or, it can be simply that they have a higher sensitivity to bitter tastes than other children.
What can I do as a parent?
Food neophobia and fussy eating will often resolve with age but there are a number of thing you can do to help overcome food neophobia and fussy eating. The two key to factors overcoming this is to be patient and persistent with your child. Often it can take up to 15 exposures for a food item to be accepted. To help you can try and involve your child in food preparation, give them choices at meal times and allow them to spit out a food if they try it and do not like it.
For more tips, visit here: Food Facts Index: Fussy Eating in Children: What Parents Should Do