Is your child genetically a picky eater?
At the Farm to Table Conference in Pittsburgh on March 22 and 23, I talked with a lot of parents about their little picky eaters and how My Food Notebook worked for us. We discussed many strategies that help kids try new foods and a big one that came up often was that parents need to try new foods, too!
Recent research from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill conducted by Myles Faith, an associate professor of nutrition at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, reports that genes make some kids more fearful of new foods.
I’m willing to bet many parents will read a headline on this research, maybe skim a few lines and say, “Oh well, my kid is genetically picky” and think they are off the hook on getting their child to try new foods and eat healthy.
But Faith’s research also shows “Some children are more genetically susceptible than others to avoid new foods. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t change their behaviors and become a little less picky.”
You know what one of the most meaningful ways these food neophobes can learn to try new things? When their parents also try new things.
The debate over nature versus nurture is old, and false. Whatever our genes predispose us to be or to do is important but certainly does not decide our fate, because we (and our genes) do not exist in a vacuum. We exist in families and society that offers a large variety of nurturing, some good and some bad. In this case, even if your child’s genes make them more fearful of new foods, their environment, and what they see their parents doing, can help them learn to try.
There are lots of other ways to help picky eaters and I’ll be sharing more in coming posts!