If you are a parent, you would know one thing for sure. Children are tough finicky eaters. At times, their chronic fear of food may even become a mental disorder.
A team of researchers conducted a survey among adults who continued with their finicky eating.
Adult Finicky Eaters Explain How Their Parents Failed To Help Them
According to it, parents should never force children to have anything they don’t like. Instead, they should go for a softer approach when having a meal. No one likes to be forced to do something, even when if it is for his own good.
The feeling that they would anger or disappoint their parents if they don’t have a meal or stay at the table till the end is suffocating.
Certain adults suffering from Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder said that such an environment was not at all healthy. Some among them, when trying to recollect their experiences during mealtime, said that their parents understood them. They knew that trying something new is a tough decision. And they were willing to help.
Such a setting creates an environment for resolving the issue. And children become willing to cooperate to experiment with variety in their diet. The study began in 2010. And it ended in 2021. Only 19,200 people participated in the study. One-third of the group was women. And almost nine among ten people were whites. Upon inquiry, almost all of them said that they continue to be finicky eaters to a great extent. 50% said that their eating disorder led to a dangerous loss of weight and nutritional deficiencies. The disorder even had a negative impact on their professional life and personal relationships.
The team assumed that this group likely suffered from ARFID. This is a condition discovered in 2013.
Even then, almost four among ten participants said that they could try new food items when their parents were non-confrontational in their attitude to them. Some of the friendlier approaches included the following:
- Involving children when preparing food
- Concentrating in particular groups of foods
- Offering them options that don’t appear threatening
- Giving children exposure to experiments in cooking
- Trying to hide the taste of food items; this is something you can do with the child’s consent
- Keep the meals consistent; let your child know what is for the meal beforehand
Almost 40% of the participants of the survey said that knowing what to expect for the meal appeared to them like an encouragement to try new things.
The study brings to light one fact. People continue to do the thing they enjoy and stop what they feel an aversion about. If your child is a finicky eater, try to expand his choices through encouragement. Be supportive. Do not ever go for quick fixes through mandates.
When a child suffers from ARFID, that is an emotional strain for parents. They find themselves unable to enjoy the delicacies they love in his presence. But don’t try to find a solution to the problem through a breakthrough order. Even though it is a mental strain, it is going to be a walk, not a run for the child. Remember, no one likes to take commands on what to do. This remains the same both for children and adults. And having meals is not an exception.
If your child has ARFID, be encouraging and take help from a therapist in your area. A tug of war at the meal table will do more harm than good. You should also take help from a pediatrician to inspect if your child has difficulty swallowing a particular texture or taste.
Making the meals more colorful and experimenting with varieties too would do wonders here.
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