Are children naturally picky? No, it’s genetics. This was said in a recent study published in the Journals of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics, which states that DNA could make children less inclined to try new foods. We talk about this topic with Dr. Marco Nuara, pediatrician at San Pio X Humanitas.
During childhood it is normal for children to go through various stages. As curious beings and experimenters, children can suddenly become very difficult to please in the kitchen. The Cleveland Clinic study examined 153 pre-school children and found that many factors can play a role in this behavior at the table, but that genes related to a child’s sensory responses could be one of the most important factors.
How can we remedy the difficult palates?
According to scientists, parents need to make a special effort to remedy this characteristic, which can potentially prevent a varied and healthy diet at very important developmental ages. First of all, we must never stop exposing children to new foods and the same food must be proposed even more than 10 times, before the child decides to try it.
Accepting rejection is fine, but it is good to try to convince the child to have at least one bite of what he has on the plate, in the hope that a continuous exposure, with time, will lead the child to develop the taste for food. “It is important to always offer the child foods of different shapes, colors and flavors. The child is curious about nature and is easily bored. His desire to experiment should be exploited and not forced. Coercion induces frustration and aversion; instead eating must be experienced as a moment of pleasure and conviviality.
It is equally important to cook the same food for everyone, without exception, showing the little one that the other adults have no problems finishing what they have in the dish. “Children learn by imitating adults. Educating people to a varied and healthy diet is a good example, says Dr. Nuara. “On the other hand, in every family in the world, children eat as their parents do. The task of mum and dad is to learn how to eat healthily and teach their children about it. They will leave them a precious legacy.
The parent must be consistent and not give up. “At the same time, he must approach eating food with serenity. It is all very well to propose and have everything tasted, but we must also respect the child’s preferences and accept that a food may be enjoyed for months and then no longer be liked and vice versa.
If a child has problems with chewing or swallowing or shows great anxiety when trying new foods, however, the advice is to talk about it with your pediatrician. The child may need a multidisciplinary feeding programme.