EPIC Blog: Kids & Food Insecurities - 4KIDS
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EPIC Blog: Kids & Food Insecurities

February 9th, 2021 l Author: Valeria Muzzetti, LMFT

Have you ever raised or worked with a child who had food insecurities? At some point in their lives, it is common for kids from all different types of backgrounds to form an aversion to a specific type of food, want to eat at odd hours, overeat, under eat, try to avoid eating, hoard food, and more. Any and all of these behaviors can fall under the category of “food insecurities.” As parents and caregivers, it is our responsibility to help our kids navigate these negative associations with meals and help them overcome this obstacle.

In order to do so, you must first get to the root of what is causing your child or adolescent to seem “picky” or “difficult” during meal times.


Things to Consider With Picky Eaters

If your child lived in another home(s) prior to coming to yours, it’s possible that any one of these situations may have occurred:

  • The presence of food was inconsistent in their previous home, so their reaction to eating now may be inconsistent. They may feel the need to “hide food for later,” because they are not used to having consistent access to it.
  • Food was used as a reward, instead of something that should always be available and unconditional.
  • Their physical appearance or weight was criticized by someone(s) and now they have low self-esteem or body image issues.

If your child has always lived with you (whether they are your biological child or they were adopted during infancy), here are a few things to think about:

  • stressful pregnancy or lack of proper healthcare for their birth mother may have caused your child to have developed an insecurity with food/ proper nutrition during in-utero development.
  • Your child may have sensory issues, making it hard for him to adjust to certain textures or colors of foods, or how meals are displayed (for example, they don’t like different foods touching each other on the same plate).
  • Because they want a sense of control, they might deny food at certain times or want to have say in the preparation of meals.
  • Your kids, or teens especially, may be living in a constant state of anxiety without realizing it. Upcoming exams, multiple commitments outside of school, expectations a caregiver has on them to perform well, and many other things can all cause them to skip meals or even double up on them. Each child is different in his or her response to stress.
After Assessing, Have A Conversation About Food

Once you get to the bottom of what might be causing your child to act out in relation to meals, have a conversation with them. Ask them if what you suspect about their association with food is true, and actively listen to them. Then, come up with a plan together.

Working with food issues can be a slow process. The Bible says, “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it” (Proverbs 15:17). Constant conflicts between you and your child in this area will not help you to move forward. It may take time for you to see growth in this area, but ensure that you have realistic expectations for your child. Praise them when they take a positive step towards change, no matter how small! Eventually, your open communication and consistency around mealtimes will help them to slowly overcome certain triggers food may bring up for them.

If you have questions or need more information about this topic, Please feel free to reach out to 4KIDS Clinical Team by visiting EPICHealing.org or emailing EPIC@4KIDS.us.