Almost every child I've ever known has gone through some sort of "picky eating" stage. A lot of the time it's short-lived and parents just kind of ride the wave until their sufficiently through it. Other times? Well, other times it's more than just a phase. When picky eating becomes a consistent eating habit, it could be a sign there are things your picky eater is trying to tell you and, well, it usually involves more than just that the fact that they don't like vegetables.
For the longest time, my daughter ate incredibly well. We fed her sweet potatoes, any type of meat under the sun, spinach, cauliflower, avocado, eggs, cheese, berries, apples, pretty much everything that was good for you was fair game. My parenting friends, it was glorious. Then I got pregnant again, developed perinatal depression and anxiety, and turned into what I considered to be a less than ideal mother. It was during that time that my daughter started saying "no" to spinach and "yes" to french fries. It's taken some time, and there are still lots of compromises, but she is gradually finding her way back to more vegetables and seemingly care-free eating habits she originally had. For example, I considered yesterday a huge win because she had half an avocado as a snack, cucumbers for lunch, and steamed cauliflower with dinner. This morning, she tried (and loved!) lentils. Baby steps, you guys. Baby steps.
In the time my partner and I have worked intentionally to establish healthy eating habits with our daughter, I have realized that her picky eating habits were (sometimes) an attempt at communicating with me. Essentially, she was telling me something, she just lacked the communication skills to do so without refusing her once-favored, healthy treats. If you find yourself experiencing much of the same, here are 7 things your picky eater may be trying to tell you:
They're Having Trouble With Textures
This is an honest-to-goodness issue that some people develop as kids and continue to struggle with as adults. Anyone who doesn't eat tomatoes but will totally have pasta sauce is one of those people, guaranteed.
Kids continue getting teeth until between two and three years old, and if their gums are tender they may not want to east something that's a little chewier.
They're Not Actually Hungry
If your kid is a grazer (and mine is), then it can be hard to hold them off long enough to build up an appetite that leaves them more willing to eat whatever is put in front of them.
They Haven't Tried A Food Enough Times To Get A Taste For It
Believe it or not, kids often need to try a small amount of a food 10-15 times before they start to develop a taste for it. I can fully attest to this, after finally convincing my daughter that cooked broccoli is pretty good, approximately 10 times of making her have a tiny floret later.
They Have An Undiagnosed Digestive Issue
If you got a stomachache every time you ate certain foods, but couldn't really express it, you would avoid those foods too, right? It may be worth looking into or, if your kid is old enough to properly respond, asking your them if their stomach is hurting or feeling "different" after they eat a specific food they claim to not particularly enjoy anymore.
They're In Emotional Distress
If there's been a significant change in your kid's life (divorce, death of a grandparent, a move or something similar) your kid may be manifesting anxiety or depression internally, which could potentially equate to a lack of appetite or aversions to certain foods. This is truly a rare occurrence, however, and usually involves extremely picky eating.
You're Letting Them Have Too Much Unhealthy Food
Hate to say it, because sometimes you just have to feed them whatever is readily available for the sake of your sanity, but unhealthy food does take its toll. If your kid develops a taste for fas food before they develop a taste for the good stuff, you may have your work cut out for you.