Episode 13 –
Picky Eating | The 3 Ingredients You Need for
a More Adventurous Eater

Episode 13

“The goal here is not to force your child to eat what you’ve put in front of him. The goal is really to not care if your child eats anything at all.”

Are you struggling with a picky eater? In this episode, Sharon discusses the 3 ingredients you need to have a more adventurous eater. If you found this episode helpful, share it with a fellow parent! Join the Raiseology Parenting Facebook Group for more parenting support. Thanks for listening!

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Intro: Welcome to the Raiseology podcast with your host, pediatrician and parenting mentor, Sharon Somekh here to empower parents to raise resilient and independent children. Grab your coffee or your Margarita and let’s get started. This podcast is for informational purposes only and should be used to supplement rather than substitute the care provided by your physician.

Sharon: Hi everyone. If you’re a new listener to the podcast, I’m Dr. Sharon Somekh, your host. Today I’ll be talking about how to manage picky eating in your home. Listen in to get the three ingredient recipe to having more adventurous eaters in your house. Picky eating as a topic very near and dear to my heart. I saw so many families struggling with this in my practice, whether it be for cultural reasons or because of simple parental worry. It’s one of the reasons picky eating is one of the topics I’ve discussed and help parents with in the Raiseology course. You can find out more about the Raiseology course at www.Raiseology.com/course. My goal for you is to go from having a picky eater to having a child who will at least try new things. After listening to this episode, how great would it be to not have to cook several meals each night to please every member of your family?

I want you to feel empowered to make a decision on what to make and not feel like a slave to your kids once. In my experience, almost every child goes through a picky eating phase, but it’s our reaction to that phase that determines if they will be a picky eater or if it’ll just be a phase. After listening to this episode, you should be able to have your kids at least be in the habit of trying new foods and then you can work them up to being less picky eaters. The problem is that when kids go through a picky eating phase, often as parents, you panic. You start to worry about what may happen if your kids don’t eat. Will they wake up in the middle of the night hungry? Will they fail to grow well? Will they tantrum? So what you naturally do is try to find things that your kids are willing to eat, and of course you notice that sometimes what they were willing to today, they refuse to eat tomorrow, I hate to say it, but you’re being played. I’ve said this before, and if you listen to enough, you’ll hear it again. Your kids are way smarter than you give them credit for. They learn very quickly what they can and can’t get away with. And mealtime is no exception. Imagine this scenario, it’s dinnertime, you offer your child to plate of chicken, rice, and Broccoli. He pushes it away. You try to convince him to eat it here, fuses. I don’t want chicken. He yells, you open the fridge to try to find an alternative. You spot the yogurt. He’s always willing to eat yogurt and of course he doesn’t disappoint. He eats yogurt and perhaps some fruit and it’s off to bed. Let’s examine what happened here a little closer. First, let’s talk about why he didn’t want to eat the chicken. Most likely there isn’t any great reason other than maybe he wasn’t hungry enough or he just didn’t feel like it.

We can’t always explain their motives, but often we overthink them. Now let’s discuss why you looked for an alternative. While just like I said before, you’re likely in the mindset that if he doesn’t eat something bad is bound to happen. Maybe he’s on the smaller side and you’re worried he isn’t growing well. Maybe he’s not the greatest sleeper and you fear that a rough night awaits if he goes to bed on an empty stomach. Whatever the reason, let’s examine what he learned. He learned that you care if he eats or not enough to offer an alternative. He learned that if he doesn’t feel like having what’s placed in front of him, you’ll look for something else and in many cases you may even offer several foods until you find the one he feels like having. The trouble here and what I hear from so many parents, is that often it escalates to a point where you basically have a list of three or four foods that your child will willingly eat. And I bet you can imagine what those foods are for most kids.

You may not even try to prepare new foods because quite frankly, it’s easier to give him what he wants from the get go. But imagine now a home with multiple kids. How many parents do you know are cooking several meals each evening to satisfy everyone’s specific ones? Unfortunately, I know quite a few and for most of them it’s a source of great frustration. So how do you break the cycle? Well, I think that like many other changes parents seek to make in their homes, this requires three vital ingredients. The first is information. A frank discussion with your pediatrician will help you understand that in the vast majority of cases, skipping a meal or two isn’t going to hurt your child. It’s important to have this information and to track it when you decide to make changes. What I often recommend is a follow-up visit about four weeks after you decided to make changes so that you can be reassured that your child is still growing appropriately. In all honesty, it was often the kids in my practice that we’re picky and cater to or forced to eat their meals that didn’t seem to put on weight. Well, it’s counterintuitive because the main reason children are forced to eat or given alternatives has to do with ingredient number two, and that’s mindset. You see, it’s so easy to be concerned that something will happen if your child doesn’t eat well, but how do we change our mindset? Well, I think the main concern you have is not always what or how much your child eats, but the real concern is if your child eats and I want to let you in on a little secret, children won’t starve themselves. Even the most stubborn kids get hungry at some point. So the major shift in mindset that you need is to convince yourself that it truly doesn’t matter if your child eats. Your children will not skip so many meals that they will harm themselves. Depending on how strong willed they are, they may refuse several meals in a row, but eventually they will eat and if hungry enough they will eat whatever you offer. I advise you to offer regular meals without snacking while you’re trying to make some changes. How strict you want to be can vary and you can make changes slowly that are still very effective. For some extreme cases, you may want to start out by simply getting your children to increase their willingness to try new foods. I often talk about the no thank you bite as something that we’ve implemented in our home. To implement the no thank you bite you simply explain to your child that he cannot have any alternatives until he at least has tried what you’ve prepared and if he doesn’t like it, he can simply say no thank you. In this case, you will hopefully find that sometimes he will decide that he actually likes the food and in other cases it may take several times of trying the same food to develop a taste for it. To be honest, it works for adults too. I’m a pretty versatile eater. I’ll try almost any food at least once and I really have very few things on my list of foods that are truly dislike, but years ago I had a really interesting experience with the frozen yogurt at Bloomingdale’s cafe. I don’t know if you’ve ever had it, but it’s sort of a sweet version of plain yogurt. My sister was obsessed with it. She used to get it whenever we would go together and I thought it was terrible. I must have told her over and over again how I can’t understand how she can eat that. The sour taste just didn’t register in my mind while I was eating frozen yogurt. I was expecting a sweeter taste and it just. It just didn’t connect for me, but for some strange reason, every time she got it, I felt the need to try it again. It was the strangest thing since I knew I didn’t like it, but I think her obsession with it made me feel like I was missing out or something. Low and behold, after enough tries, I now share her obsession and I’ve been known to go to the mall just for the Bloomingdale’s frozen yogurt, so if an adults can acquire a taste for things, kids certainly can. The trick is to make sure that they’re hungry enough to try. The last ingredient I believe you need is support. It’s important, first and foremost, to have the support of family members and other caregivers who are also responsible for feeding your child. This transition will be easiest if everyone is on board and willing to stay consistent. This is sometimes the hardest part. It’s hard to know that grandma’s not going to give a snack right before dinner and it’s certainly difficult for a babysitter to stick to the rules when your child is crying. The best way to go about this really is to have a specific plan that you all come up with together and really plan to stick to it together so that everybody’s on the same page and you get the best results you could possibly get. It’s also great to have someone or somewhere to vent frustrations when your child is tantruming because you won’t give in and have the realistic expectation that you will likely experience some tantrums along the way, no matter how old your kids are because it’s bound to happen.

Remember that picky eating in the majority of cases is a behavior issue, not a health concern. I want to be clear on something. The goal here is not to force your child to eat what you’ve put in front of him. The goal is really to not care if your child eats anything at all. We’re not going to force our children to eat what we’ve put in front of them, but we’re just simply not gonna offer any other alternatives. So if your child is hungry enough and wants to eat something, he’ll have to eat what you’ve put in front of him. So I don’t want anyone misunderstanding and thinking that they need to force feed their children because that’s certainly not what I’m recommending. And lastly, if you’d like some more support, feel free to come into the Raiseology parenting facebook group and vent there. We would love to support you through this process.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the Raiseology podcast head over to www.Raiseology.com, where you’ll find plenty of you’ve got this resources for parents and any links or tools mentioned in today’s show. Be sure to hit subscribe on your podcatcher so that you can listen to the next episode the minute it’s out. Until next time, have an empowered week.

Meet Your Mentor

Sharon is a general pediatrician, loving wife and mother to 4 daughters.

 After a decade of practicing general pediatrics and working with families, she realized there often wasn’t enough time while tending to children’s medical needs to help parents in the way that would be most helpful in shaping their children’s futures.

 The Raiseology Program was developed to teach parents how to raise their children with the love and authority necessary to promote resilience and responsibility.

Sharon’s experience with hundreds of families as well as her own help her meet you where you are on your parenting journey to help you make it what you want it to be.

This site and the information contained therein is for educational purposes only. This site is not a substitute for medical advice, treatment or diagnosis. The use of this site does not create a doctor-patient relationship.

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This site and the information contained therein is for educational purposes only. This site is not a substitute for medical advice, treatment or diagnosis. The use of this site does not create a doctor-patient relationship.

Your privacy is important to us so we want to let you know. This site uses tracking technology, such as cookies and pixels to enhance your user experience and provide social media features. You can find out more here.

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