The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Parents enable kids’ picky eating

It bemuses me each time I hear a parent use this statement to describe a child’s eating habits: “My kid won’t touch anything green.”

This immediately labels the child as a picky eater, and I instantaneously picture the narrow scope of “acceptable” foods the child will put in his or her mouth — a medley of simple, white carbohydrates, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and the occasional piece of meat or cheese.

The boy who lives across the street has survived into his teens off frozen waffles, hot dogs, bread and pepperoni pizza. I know this because his mother shared it with me.

What’s with the food hang-ups and how can children develop such constricted diets in the first place?

According to The New York Times, doctors and pediatricians now use the term neophobic to describe picky eaters as having a fear of trying new foods. A study done by the public health and epidemiology department at London’s University College revealed this childhood food fear to be about 75 percent genetic and 25 percent environmental. This means the child’s surroundings have less effect over their picky preferences than what they have inherited from parents.

I am not convinced.

Part of parenting involves establishing a firm foundation  for children. This includes setting boundaries and making children aware of good choices through parental assertion.

Parents have more control early in their children’s lives over the food they consume. They have discretion over the types and varieties of food a child eats. A toddler is not going to know what a chicken nugget or a cucumber tastes like until someone gives one to him or her. It is the parent’s responsibility to introduce the child to different tastes and textures.

Trying new things can be complicated and scary, but it’s a never-changing part of life. Learning how to ride a bike for the first time is difficult and frightening, and it takes time and guidance from a parent. Yet, after learning how, the angst disappears, and it’s fun.

Being confronted with new foods requires different maneuvers than riding a bike, but the basics are the same — fear can be overcome through experience and direction.

There’s no need to fear an asparagus spear or to flinch at the sight of spinach.

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian