Most parents I encounter don’t really know why their picky eaters are picky. And I’m with them on that front: it’s very difficult to know for sure.

In the face of this uncertainty, it’s very easy to guess. And try to add some logic to the situation. Believe me, I get the impulse to find some logic. For many children, however, what they will and will not eat, simply defies a rational explanation. And looking for the logic can sidetrack parents from tackling the situation. Nonetheless it’s good to narrow down the options so you can develop an effective solution.

Check out the most common explanations for picky eating. Then:

  1. See which one (two or three) might explain your child’s situation.
  2. Verify your diagnosis. Probe. Explore. Talk to your kids.
  3. Select a plan of action/solution.
    1. Seek medical diagnosis if applicable.
    2. See the world through your child’s eyes to determine the steps you’ll need to implement for change.
    3. Make sure the steps you choose are small and doable. Explain those steps to your child.
    4. Re-evaluate
    5. Call me if you need help!!

Here are the most common explanations for picky eating. Solutions follow.

Neophobia: The idea is that Mother Nature makes children afraid of new foods around the time they become more mobile to keep them from eating poisonous things. (This can’t explain why kids who won’t touch new foods will eat dirt, marbles and other delectables. Also, it can’t explain why fear of new foods becomes selectivity with tried-and-true items too.

Fear of Bad Taste: Some kids are like elephants and they never forget a thing. Read Look Into My Crystal Ball.

Fear of Anything New: These children want to eat the same foods, wear the same clothes, go to the same playgrounds. They sometimes also want their parents to eat the same foods, wear the same clothes and go to the same playgrounds! Read Make “New” Work for You.

Immature Taste Buds: These kids need to expand their palates in order to find more “sophisticated” flavors pleasing. Read The Step-by-Step, Blow-by-Blow Guide to Introducing New Foods that’s Guaranteed to Change How Your Kids Eat.

Control Struggle: Needs no explanation! (Well, except for this: if you control your kids around food, it might not be surprising if they try to control you back. Read You’re Caught in a Control Struggle over Food. Now What?

Negative Emotion: This has nothing to do with taste and everything to do with perception. Read What “I’m not hungry” Really Means.

Eating New Food is Unimportant: These kids just don’t care. Read: How Do I Get My Child to Eat More Growing Foods?

Has NO Reason to Eat New Foods: Parents cater to these kids. Read Do Parents Produce Picky Eaters?

Oral-Motor Problems: These children have difficulty chewing and/or swallowing, and should have a medical evaluation. Read My child only eats Cheerios and Puffs: When to seek medical help.

Sensory Sensitivity: These children have an aversion to certain foods that makes being around those foods difficult. There may be reason to have a medical evaluation. Read For Extreme Fruit and Vegetable Avoiders…

~Changing the Conversation from Nutrition to Habits~