'I am a picky eater, how do I make sure my kids are not?'

Photo: Getty/iStock
Photo: Getty/iStock Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

It can be near impossible to predict the eating patterns of toddlers, but is there a way to make sure they don't pick up your own bad habits?

One mum is worried her fussy eating patterns may be passed down to her kids, saying her one-year-old daughter has noticed she eats different food from the rest of the family.

Explaining to The Slate's advice column, the woman explained she has a sensory disorder that makes her sensitive to food textures, taste, and smell.

"My wife is an adventurous eater who loves all sorts of foods that are challenging for me," she wrote. "We've reached a loving compromise—she'll make a base (pasta, rice, etc.) and a side sauce, then give me the base and put on the side sauce for her portion. We are both happy with this arrangement."

The mum said she wants her kids to grow up with her wife's palate, saying being fussy has been difficult.

"My food issues have restricted my life in a way that's made it hard for me to eat at restaurants, travel, and generally be adventurous," she admitted. "I want my kids to be open-minded and excited to try new foods."

"Short of eating in the closet or out of her eyesight, how do I ensure my daughter doesn't inherit my food pickiness?" she asked. "How can I encourage her to try new foods while I'm unable to do so myself?

"I have already sought therapy for my food avoidance and have made a lot of progress—I'm just realising that I don't want to model picky behaviour for my daughter. Any advice?"

The columnist, Emily Gould acknowledged that although it's uncomfortable that her daughter's picked up on her habits, it's probably just the toddler's way of discovering the world around her.

"She is learning about patterns and routines, how things are done, and she's sharing her findings with no implied value judgments," Gould explained. 

"It's totally understandable that you're worried about your kids modelling your picky eating, but since your wife is modelling the opposite and also providing lots of delicious options, you don't need to worry about what is or isn't on your own plate."

Gould suggested explaining her disorder when the kids are old enough to understand, but for now she doesn't need to worry about it.

"Parents control what food is available and when, and kids control whether they eat, and how much," she said. "There may be some bumps in the road, but you can raise healthy, happy eaters regardless of your own struggles—and maybe even thanks in part to what you've learned from them."