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Nutrition Goals With Picky Eating

When working with children and adults with picky eating, we have two main goals. First is ensuring nutritional adequacy, and second is expanding the food repertoire. Both are very important. The first goal, nutritional adequacy, is often prioritized in the short term, while the second goal, expanding the food repertoire, can be achieved over the long run.


couple preparing food together

Two Nutrition Goals for Picky Eating


Goal one for picky eating is to achieve basic nutrition requirements. To meet nutritional needs, the aim is to achieve good nutrition within the constraints of what the person already eats. This can be done with prioritizing certain foods that are already accepted, adding in nutritional supplements, shakes, or drinks that the patient is willing to take, and using vitamin and mineral supplements. This is not meant to be a long term solution. This is to bridge the gap while the patient is working towards goal two.


Goal two for picky eating is to expand the food repertoire. The main prerequisite to achieve this goal is for the patient to have some level of interest in expanding the foods they eat. Using a series of food exposures and cognitive strategies to manage the discomfort and expectations of experiencing new foods, patients are able to slowly expand the list of foods they will accept. This goal takes time to achieve. Each food the patient works on takes time, this work is done methodically.


How to Achieve Nutrition Goals for Picky Eating


If you or your child has picky eating, you may want to turn to healthcare providers to help you with this problem. There are mental health providers, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, and dietitians who can help you or your child.

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