Is your teenager a picky eater?

“extreme picky eating can eventually feel embarrassing and simply too inconvenient.”

Is your teenager a picky eater?

Jadalys Pichardo, Staff Writer

Don’t worry; this isn’t another article about tuna rice and spinach cupcakes. Throughout the years your parents have probably been trying to force you to eat certain things, sneaking it in something else, or even taking you to food therapy. Stated by food specialists in the article, “How to help your teenager with picky eating,” most parents have spent years “agonizing and strategizing” on how to find a way to help their teen eat more/different foods. Obviously, some of you may have noticed that this tactic does not work whatsoever. However, there are ten tips to help improve your relationship with food, have your parents support you in your preferred appetite, address additional anxiety, help you feel empowered and in control, and learn how to adjust to a wider food variety.

 

  1. The parent’s role should be thought of more as facilitation rather than the active “helper.”

They have to realize that even the most subtle of pressure or patronizing encouragement can undermine a teen’s confidence. Instead, they should try to provide you with the pieces you need for your adjustment to work by considering what you are trying to accomplish. In other words, they need to chill out. Don’t be so controlling. Your life isn’t theirs. They should help you create a better life for yourselves instead of trying to force you to live theirs.

  1. You should connect to their motivation. Many teens are are scared they can’t change; they feel hopeless since they have failed other ways. Talk to us. Discuss diet related questions, but calmly. This may not be quick and easy, but remember that this is your way; it’s your life, not theirs. Sometimes taking parents out of the equation betters the teenager.
  2. Listening to teenagers when they want to talk and respecting their silence if they don’t want to talk goes a long way. We need to explore the process our own way with our own time. If we want opinions or suggestions, parents should try not to get defensive. “They might blame you- it’s what teens often do.” We know our parents did the best they can, so they shouldn’t take it personally.
  3. They should try to be good company at meal time. Giving you the freedom to choose whether they would like to eat dinner with you or not is a good way to start. The focus isn’t on how much you eat. That’s not the point of this. There is no pressure on you. Attempt to include yourselves in more eating events, but everyone should respect your decision if you deny.
  4. Offer suggestions on what they should go grocery shopping for. Your responses are free, without criticism. If you put something on the list they think you might not eat, that’s okay, it’s part of the process.
  5. Take support when you want to start exploring. For example, this could include cooking classes, library recipe books, teaching you skills, etc. Just make sure to stay available.
  6. Be careful of what their expectations are. You have probably struggled with picky eating for a long time. This process could take some time. It’s different for everyone. Some may take forever, while some don’t take long at all. Early progress could be, for example, joining them for dinner, asking for leftovers, enjoying more foods, and feeling comfortable eating out.
  7. Know that eating healthy isn’t just about eating vegetables. “Health is about connections and love, about moving their bodies in enjoyable ways, and about addressing stress and anxiety.” Eating healthy is just eating what you know will benefit your body.
  8. Ask for professional assistance if in need of it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  9. Finally, they should provide you with tools. As teenagers, we are working on independence. Help us achieve our goals the way we need to do it. It’s not their life it’s ours.

 

Speaking from personal experience, being a picky teenager is extremely rough. I used to eat all sorts of things. Now, I’m a pescatarian, I don’t eat eggs, beets, and I don’t drink milk. The list goes on. Fortunately, I have found recipes that I enjoy cooking and more things that I enjoy eating. I especially love making potato chickpea curry and homemade tomato pasta sauce, so delicious. Unfortunately, my mom isn’t a big fan of my eating lifestyle, but I know what I need to eat and when. Remember, in order for your teen to evolve and grow into their own lives, it has to be just that: their own life. As the parent, it is your job to help your teen form a life they feel comfortable in, not a life you think is better for them, because you may be wrong.