A parent contacted me to say her 10 year old daughter eats only about 10 things, consisting mostly of sugar, dairy and snacks. She is not very willing to try new things, except smoothies they make together (even one with kale which she liked but not as much as one without).
Mom has tried new things but her daughter refuses to even taste them. It’s become a sort of power struggle. She asked me if I thought this could be an eating disorder.
If a child is regularly eating it is highly unlikely that she is suffering from an eating disorder. Eating disorders typically involve little or no eating or the opposite - bingeing and purging. If you look at what this child mainly eats, it is all sugar based. Sugar is an extremely addictive food and if it constitutes the majority of someone’s diet, they will have a preference for more of the same.
As a parent, you get to make the decisions about the foods you bring into the home. The palate is designed to experience sweet, salty, bitter, sour and pungent. Mixing the other flavors into the menu, along with setting limits on the frequency of sweets, will help a child broaden their horizons with foods.
We did some health coaching and I made some recommendations. Introducing more fresh fruit is a simple way to satisfy the need for sweet with a nutritious choice instead of a packaged snack food. Baking an apple or a pear will release the natural sugars in the fruit and satisfy that sweet craving. We also talked about planting a vegetable garden in the spring or visiting Farmer’ s Markets and local farms to help this child develop more interest in more foods and where they come from. a broader palate.
I’ve included some resources for you: a nutrition education program for kids presented by Yale University’s David Katz, MD, and the link for the National Eating Disorders Association for more information about their programs.