Picky Eaters 101

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One of the most common questions we get in our office is, “How can I get my child to eat more healthy foods?” While there is no magic pill, we will be posting some of our favorite tips over the next few weeks. Keep in mind, this is just a phase, things will get easier!

Quick Tip #1: It is normal for small children are afraid of trying new things, including trying new foods (food neophobia). Reassurance does not always work. But… the more familiar they are with a food the more likely they will try it and like it. It may take several exposures to new foods before the child will accept them and eat them – sometimes as many as 15 attempts! Neophobia peaks at age two years old. It is less of a problem at three, four and five years old. Continue to offer your child to foods they don’t want to eat, but never force them to eat it.

Remember parents are responsible for providing healthful food that is appropriate for the age of the child. Children are responsible for how much they eat or if they eat at all.

If all else fails, follow #mykidcanteatthis for some sympathy and a good laugh.

Perry RA, Mallan KM, Koo J, Mauch CE, Daniels LA, Magarey AM. Food neophobia and its association with diet quality and weight in children aged 24 months: a cross sectional study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2015 Feb 13;12:13. doi: 10.1186/s12966-015-0184-6. PubMed PMID: 25889280; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4335451.
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Know Thy Poop

The Bristol Stool Chart is a great way to get an idea of how well your colon is working (or not working). Type 1-2, likely constipated. Type 3-4, ideal consistency. Type 7 is diarrhea. A stool log including frequency, Bristol type and associated symptoms will help you and your pediatric gastroenterologist arrive at a diagnosis and help treat your child.

Bristol_stool_chart
References:
1. Lewis SJ, Heaton KW. Stool form scale as a useful guide to intestinal transit time. Scand J Gastroenterol. 1997 Sep;32(9):920-4. PubMed PMID: 9299672.
2. Saad RJ, Rao SS, Koch KL, Kuo B, Parkman HP, McCallum RW, Sitrin MD, Wilding GE, Semler JR, Chey WD. Do stool form and frequency correlate with whole-gut and colonic transit? Results from a multicenter study in constipated individuals and healthy controls. Am J Gastroenterol. 2010 Feb;105(2):403-11. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2009.612. Epub 2009 Nov 3. PubMed PMID: 19888202.
3. Russo M, Martinelli M, Sciorio E, Botta C, Miele E, Vallone G, Staiano A. Stool consistency, but not frequency, correlates with total gastrointestinal transit time in children. J Pediatr. 2013 Jun;162(6):1188-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.11.082. Epub 2013 Jan 11. PubMed PMID: 23312678.