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Are Kids Naturally Picky Eaters?

June 18, 2008

If you are a parent, you know how difficult it can be to get your kids to eat their broccoli. There are cook books on the market, like Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious, giving parents secret tips on how to trick their kids into eating vegetables. But why is this? Are kids naturally picky eaters? Or are we not exposing them to enough variety?

A recent New York Times article featured an American family living in Beijing. One of the parents brought home a bag of leftovers from dinner, it was filled with deep fried scorpions. In America, that goody bag would probably be met by eyes of disgust. But not in this family. The 11-year-old boy shrieked, “Awesome!” and started chomping down on them.

These kids were never exposed to microwave pizzas or spaghetti from a can. They were constantly exposed to real foods, and a wide variety of them. The result is that they will eat anything from spinach to goat testicles.

Their mother, Paola, also attributes her kids healthy taste buds to the fact that she breast- fed them. She also said that in poor countries, like China, people do not have the option of being picky eaters. They are thankful for all food and don’t develop fussiness when it comes to what they eat.

In America, we face different cultural situations and many of our kids are picky eaters. The best thing to do is to love your kids and their foods choices, while slowly incorporating more variety of real foods.

What tips do you have for other parents who are looking for ways to feed their kids healthier foods?

About the author

Joshua Rosenthal is the Founder and Director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. He has worked in the nutrition field for more than 25 years, teaching at the school alongside health leaders including Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra and Barry Sears. At Integrative Nutrition students are trained as Health Coaches, receiving the holistic nutrition education necessary for them go out into the world and help others improve their health and happiness.