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What Are the Problems of Being a Picky Eater?

Picky eating is a problem for many children, teenagers, and adults. The negative outcomes that picky eating causes shift over time. In younger children, the main concern is about good nutrition. As kids get older, while the nutrition concerns remain, the bigger problem for the picky eater is often the social issues picky eating causes.


problems of being a picky eater

When a child is younger, picky eating leads the child to avoid certain categories of foods and selectively eat other categories of foods. With enough food selectivity, it is harder to have adequate intake of certain nutrients. Common nutrients of concern are protein, fiber, calcium, iron, and zinc. Even with picky eating, attention to diet can help prevent deficiencies, and supplements can also help fill the gaps. As such, the main problematic outcome of picky eating in younger children is manageable.


While nutritional deficiencies can be solved with supplements, the social issues that picky eating causes can not be fixed so easily. As kids get older, picky eating often makes the picky eater avoid social situations that involve food. Picky eaters will turn down invitations to eat out with friends, avoid attending parties, and decline dates to refrain from entering situations where they will be expected to eat unaccepted foods. This really limits the social life of the picky eater. It is often when the picky eater is living these difficult social outcomes of their picky eating that they decide they want to tackle and improve their picky eating.


The third level problem of picky eating is how it often worsens over time into the adult years. If not addressed, many picky eaters will gradually add more foods to their list of foods they do not eat. The new food aversions are can be triggered by anything from growing food safety fears, one-time adverse occurrences with a particular food, or changing gastrointestinal symptoms. This leads to food and food avoidance taking up an ever growing influence on how the person spends their time and further social isolation.


Picky eating is a problem. The problems of being a picky eater extend past basic nutrition issues. Picky eaters often end up with restricted social life and increasingly worsening food selectivity. If you are a picky eater and it is giving you problems, reach out to a dietitian who can help!

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