(Closed) Picky eaters. Born or made?

posted 4 years ago in Parenting
Post # 31
1183 posts
Bumble bee

i think there’s two ways of looking at picky:

1. A dislike for a particular texture/taste (eg I hate anything jelly-like. So as a kid I’d have fruit at parties instead of jelly and I e cream, don’t like egg white, fat on meat etc  Easy to deal with because I just cut out the texture I don’t like but eat most things).

 if the child eats a rounded diet then it’s probably just preference & we all have preferences  

2. Pickiness that means very limited diets or eating mainly sugary spreads in bread, junk food etc.

Children will prefer high fat, ‘fun’ food & once they’ve worked out how to throw tantrums and say no they’ll try. Then I think parents have given in to screaming kids to appease them. Food becomes an early battleground and the child learns they can control their parents’ actions. 

Post # 32
556 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2016

I am a super picky eater. My parents cooked a diversity of food from around the world, and I have a brother who will eat pretty much anything. I was never given any option for dinner other than what the rest of the family was eating – it was have what’s on your plate or go hungry. So no, I don’t think I was “made”. I very much think for me it’s a “born” thing. I’m hypersensitive to taste and texture. I do think my parents made dinners WAY more stressful than they needed to and it wouldn’t have killed them to stop serving the same foods that I refused to eat over and over and over again (to this day I want to vomit at the thought of chicken pot pie, for instance).

I’m happy to try new things and I usually try foods I dislike about once a year to see if my preferences have changed, but nope. Trust me, if I could force myself to eat a wider variety of foods without gagging or getting nauseated, I would.

I really don’t think there’s a way to “win” as a parent on this battle, honestly. Indulge your kid – you’re spoiling them and ruining their palate. Don’t accommodate their tastes – you’re too strict and potentially causing food-related issues later in life. It’s a fine balance. I won’t presume to know how to navigate the situation as someone who doesn’t yet have kids of my own.

Post # 33
1886 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2016 - Gorse Hill, Surrey, UK

My mum tried everything to get me to eat vegetables as a kid, I just never liked them. She used to hide them in other foods that I did like and I would spit the bits out as a baby.(I cant have learnt that as I was too young to even remember doing it) Carrots physically make me gag. As an adult I have tried to force myself to eat them but I’m still not a fan. I think I was born like it and I’ve managed to force my tastebuds to adjust to a few things over time. 

Post # 34
1887 posts
Buzzing bee

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Itsnotme:  I just want to say that your friend’s kid spitting at people and them not disciplining her is bonkers! 

Post # 35
10635 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2011

I don’t think it’s an either/or question.

There are kids who probably wouldn’t have pickiness tendencies but develop them because of how they are brought up.  There are kids who would be picky no matter what is done.  There are kids who have medical issues that aren’t known which can affect their preferences.

I think for wherever a kid would more naturally fall there are things parents can do that helps/hinders, and those factors are also child dependent.

Post # 36
3030 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2016

I feel it comes down to “made” in most cases. I’m not saying people don’t naturally have foods they dislike. However, as you said, we would have just went hungry until the next meal.

My fiancé hates coconut but if he’s told to eat some…he will. He was raised in a household where you ate what you were given. I hate onions but if it’s already in something, I’ll eat it. I used to hate spinach and then came to love it from eating it anyhow. The funny part was, as a child, I forced myself to eat spinach because usually it was just a side that we didn’t have to put on our plate if we didn’t want to.

Unfortunately, no child is going to get all the nutrients they need from only sausages and fries. That’s a shame but it’s a grey area because it’s not your child to really act on. 

I cannot eat corn bread or beans alone ever since being served those from a friend’s mom when I was young. I got sick and was throwing up horribly for hours from something in her food. So now I can’t eat them or I feel ill trying…so of course that’s a made reaction to me.

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles lately on French children, their school’s outlook on feeding, and their diverse palates. It’s worth a look for anyone interested in the topic on selective eating. 

Post # 37
82 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2016

I find the anger people have towards children who are picky eaters baffling. I was a very picker eater when I was young. There were a lot of things I didn’t eat, I would start to eat them and then something internal made me stop and I knew if I kept eating them I would feel really ill. After a bad experience with food I avoided them after that. This was from when I was so young I couldn’t even really say what was happening in words. My mum and other friends mothers tutted at me and said it wouldn’t kill me to try to eat more things. I also didn’t throw tantrums or only eat pasta or bread or anything like that, but if I started eating something and felt I needed to stop, I did so I went hungry a lot as a child. 

What I didn’t know until my 20s is that I am incredibly physically intolerant to garlic, onion and dairy. They make me really ill, skin rashes, upset stomach, tunnel vision, immediate fatigue, muscle weakness, it’s like being poisoned. Rather than giving out to me for being a fussy eater, my parents should have been taking me for allergy testing.

Post # 40
161 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

This is a tough question!! I think it may be a 50/50 thing! When I was a kid, my parent made a huge variety of foods. Beef tongue, liver, Brussel sprouts, potato cakes, sardines, mustard greens, acorn squash, ect. Us kids had to try everything, and had to eat everything on our plates, and couldn’t leave the table until our plates were clean. So unfair..lol I hated beef tongue! Gross! And Milk as a child, was forced to drink it 3 meals a day. My step sister hated Brussel sprouts. Sometimes we would sit there for hours. Eventually we learned. I’ll eat your Brussel sprout, you drink my milk. For me, being picky was a kid thing. I am not picky anymore. There is a couple things I won’t eat, but I like mostly everything. And now love milk and still hate beef tongue!!

  • This reply was modified 4 years, 4 months ago by Profile Photo stephanie1307.
  • This reply was modified 4 years, 4 months ago by Profile Photo stephanie1307.
Post # 41
1323 posts
Bumble bee

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Ditto… people assume you’re fussy when really you just can’t tolerate foods but you can’t put it onto words they take seriously. 

As an adult though, now I’m “fussy”. I spent so much of my life getting ill from eating foods with sauces on (usually tomato based) that now as an adult even the thought of “wet food” makes me feel ill so I don’t eat anything with a sauce. I’m working on getting over it but it’s 18+ years of psychological damage to overcome… plus I’m still allergic to tomatoes of course so that affects my diet a lot! 

Post # 42
1833 posts
Buzzing bee

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coraly:  Best post on the whole thread.  I love what you said.

I am a picky eater.  I wish I wasn’t but I am.  I am sure I stared out that way because of my mom.  When I was 3 my dad died and I had 3 brothers much older than I (and they became a handful after our dad died).  She was over her head in grief and crazy sons.  I was quiet and compliant and she would make me what I asked for.  It was usually hamburgers with ketchup, chicken and rice soup, bowl of cereal.  She didn’t have the strenth or fortitude to cook big dinners and have me try new things – she was just lost.

When she married my god-awful stepdad he was of the mind that you put EVERYTHING on your plate and you ate it.  Not that you had to taste it and decide what you thought of it – even if you hated it you had to eat it.  He was abusive and my mom always made what he liked.  I will give him 20% credit for me trying new things I liked and 80% credit for reinforcing the pickiness that evolved.  One thing I hate more than anything is liver and onions.  HATE IT.  He loved it so we had it at least 3 or 4 times a month.  I had to eat it.  Every.single.week.  That just reinforces picky eating, it doesn’t solve anything.

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truthah:  From my experience I really dislike your friend’s approach that you are only allowed not to like one thing and you must eat everything else.  Who came up with the arbitrary number of one thing?  I think it is important for kids to try new foods but they shouldn’t be forced to eat it again next week if they don’t like it.  they can eat the rest of what is served.  Maybe try another bite of it in a few months to see if they have changed their minds.  To say a child is only allow to exclude one item from their diet reminds me a LOT of my stepfather.  I don’t know anyone who dislikes only one thing in the world so why should they have to eat what they hate?  That theory just makes me angry.

I cooked many foods I didn’t like for my kids.  They also didn’t know I didn’t care for them – it is easy to fool little kids.  My oldest Dear Daughter is a very adventurous eater.  My middle child isn’t very picky at all.  My son is 20 and is on the autism spectrum.  He has sensory issues with foods – he is certain mac and cheese is the creation of the devil.  He hates creamy things, soups, gravy, and most vegetables.  And yes, he has tried them all, many times.  He is also anosmic (absolutely no sense of smell) so food tastes vastly different to him that it does to most of us.

I really wish I wasn’t a picky eater but I am. I try new things all the time.  Sometimes I find something new I like but more often than not, I just don’t like it.

So do I think they are born or made that way?  I think you can cater so much to a child that they become picky, but I also think you can go to an extreme like my step-father did and reinforce the pickiness.

Post # 43
859 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2016

In 99% of cases they are raised. If anyone disagrees, they are either a raised picky eater themselves, are raising a picky eater or are in the 1%. No doubt about it.

ETA: My theory applies to developmentally normal children.

Post # 44
5940 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: May 2014

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Itsnotme:  Mostly made, but I feel like kids get freaked out easy by new foods, too. I had stepkids that were raised on chicken nuggets and french fries. I am the opposite of that kind of food. Soooo when we had them luckily a couple of them were very open to trying and liking new things! We were making chicken caccitore over creamy polenta, panna cotta with macerated strawberries in balsamic, spinach salads with pears and blue cheese. I mean, they were very open to all these new flavors! It was fun! If I had a kid from birth, I would definitely not be serving nuggets and fries. I’d also heard if you get them involved in cooking their own food, they are more likely to try it. It was so so fun when they would try something new and be happy about it!

Post # 45
9465 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2013

i ate anything and everything as long as i could dip it, didn’t even matter if it went together up until the age of 3.  then i became the pickiest eater. 

growing up, my dad traveled for work, my mom was a Stay-At-Home Mom, and she was a short order cook for my brother and me.  she made separate meals for my brother and me.  if my dad was home, they ate something different. 

i think the only thing we ate that was the same was pasta, but i didn’t eat red sauce, so mine was always made differently.

my mom didn’t force us to eat anything we didn’t want to because she was forced as a child to eat terrible things.

in my teen years, i started to expand a little bit more.

not until i met my husband did i really become adverturous.  i still do not eat any kind of seafood, because i do not like it. 


my mom did meet with peditrician when we were young about our eating habits.  he said the kids aren’t going to starve.  give them what they ask for, their bodies know what they need.  my brother and i have always been healthy.  my brother is still picky to an extent. 


we are expecting our first next month.  i told DH, i would not be a short order cook.  our children will eat what we put in front of them.  growing up i did hear that you need to try something 3 times before you can say you don’t like it.  so i plan to implement that guideline.

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