Are Picky Eaters More Likely To Eat Junk Food?

by Maisie Brennan

Most moms sometimes find it difficult to feed their children healthy foods—and for those of us with picky eaters, it can be especially challenging.  

In a recent survey, 368 moms aged 18 years or older were asked about their 3-6 year olds’ picky eating habits, and junk food consumption.  Our results showed that moms of picky eaters feel like their kids choose junk food over other foods more often per day and eat junk food during meal/snack times more often than non-picky eaters.

 Additionally, mothers of picky eaters worry more often that their child eats too much junk food. We all know that eating junk food instead of more nutritious foods poses a risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and picky eaters are already at high risk because they eat a smaller variety of foods to begin with.  

Moms of picky eaters should limit sweet treats to once per day.  Moms should also be mindful of foods their child eats during meals and snacks, providing healthy choices whenever possible (after all, if it is available they might eat it).  

Also, make a point to incorporate a variety of foods into your child’s diet.  A good way to do this is to pair a “new” food with a food you know your child likes.  For instance, if you know that your child likes to eat strawberries but has never tried blueberries, mix the two fruits together.  If your child doesn’t eat  the “new” food don’t be discouraged!  

It often takes more than one try to get your child to try something new.  Lastly, start talking about it!  Talk to your pediatrician (or other parents) about your child’s eating habits – chances are, he/she has seen other children with similar eating behaviors and can potentially offer advice (or just a welcomed listening ear) for your picky eater troubleshooting.

About The Authors:

Maisie Brennan received her M.S. in Nutrition and Health Promotion from Simmons College, Boston.  She will fulfill the requirement for becoming a registered dietitian (R.D.) by completing a dietetic internship at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst starting in Fall 2011. 

Stefanie Giampa recently completed her Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Health Promotion from Simmons College in Boston.  She is currently completing her dietetic internship at Simmons in order to become a registered dietitian.  Stefanie hopes to open a private practice specializing in general nutrition counseling, sports nutrition, and athletes with celiac disease.