While parents won’t be surprised, scientists at the University of Illinois recently reported picky eating has a huge impact on mealtime behaviors. And, this is not a behavior limited to children.
As reported via a U of I Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, the study determined “that picky eaters can be divided into four groups: (1) Sensory-Dependent Eaters, who reject a food because it’s mushy, slippery, bitter, or lumpy; (2) Behavioral Responders, who cringe or gag when food’s not prepared in the ‘right’ way or refuse to come to the table at mealtime; (3) Preferential Eaters, who won’t try new foods and avoid foods that are mixed or have complex ingredients; and (4) General Perfectionists (by far the largest group), who have very specific needs, little variety in their diet, and may insist that foods not touch each other.”
The two-week study investigated differences in picky eaters’ and non-picky eaters’ behaviors and food selections. Parents of 170 two- to four-year-olds observed their children’s responses to five standardized meals brought into participants’ homes, evaluating their behavior in real time, not from memory. At the beginning of the study, 83 children were described by their parents as picky eaters; 87 children were not.
Significant differences existed between the two groups, with the behavior of picky eaters ranging from simple suspicion of an unfamiliar food to cringing, crying, and gagging, Lee said.
Sharon Donovan, a U of I professor of nutrition, observed, “Some parents give up on a food if their child rejects it two or three times, but we encourage parents to keep exposing the child to the food. Don’t pressure them to eat it but show them that parents and siblings are eating the food and enjoying it.”
You can read more about the U of I study at http://fshn.illinois.edu/news/u-i-study-describes-behaviors-preferences-picky-eaters.