Does your husband or your child prefer their soul food and refuse to try anything new? Are you tired of cooking up wonders in the kitchen but failing to get them to taste? Have your started doubting your culinary skills? Well, let us reveal that you are not alone in the boat and you are not to be blamed either. What you are dealing with is a picky eater husband or child and the guilt inducing party is their genes. New research has comprehensively pointed out that genes play a major role in children or even adults rejecting certain foods or even being neophobic i.e. fearing any new food.
Relationship between picky eating and genes
Recently, researchers from the University of North Carolina conducted a study on 792 pair of twins from the age range of four to seven and published their inferences in the journal, ’Obesity’. In over 72 per cent of the kids, the aversion to certain foods was traced down to specific genes. This absolves you of any guilt that you have failed to inculcate the right eating habits in your child. The study also established that the boys buckled more in front of genes than the girls. Remember your lament that boys are so much tougher to deal with than the girls.
University College London also conducted a separate study on kids' food neophobia and genes were found responsible in 78 per cent of kids.
Both studies also pointed out that the high Body Mass Index of picky eaters was also passed on to them from their parents and the trend more often than not, continues into adulthood.
How legitimate are the results?
The study was conducted on a relatively small sample size and merely shows the correlation between picky eating and genes. However, it has helped us in understanding that heredity plays a vital role in the eating habits of the new generation. Various other studies conducted across the globe have also arrived at the same conclusion.
Is picky eating a disorder?
Now that genes have been found responsible, we are sure you would be wondering if it is a disorder. In the recent past, picky eating has been recognized as a clinical disorder and intensive research is being conducted to pinpoint the exact source and its consecutive treatment. It has been established beyond doubt that picky eating generally leads to nutritional deficiencies and other health conditions which can assume critical proportions like heart or bone problems. However, you may note that medically, picky eating is still not recognized as an ailment until it assumes gigantic proportions.
The next step
Now that the blame of picky eating has been laid at the door of the genes, are you getting off the hook of providing your child with a healthy and well-balanced diet? Actually no, because UK researchers have also established that inheritance need not have the final say in the child’s eating outcome. They advise you to keep on offering the refused food in several innovative and creative ways continually till the child or the adult caves in and finally tries it. Even after tasting, rejection may follow but you should keep on cajoling them to try again. Gradually, they develop a liking and a taste for the food.
Some tips to help overcome picky eating habits
Research has comprehensively established that regardless of genes, the first four years of any child is critical in establishing her/his food repertoire. You, as a parent, have the most critical role to play. You need to remain calm and positive at all times. While encouraging the child to try new food, s/he should not be deprived of his old favourites. Keep trying variations of the same ingredient and continually encourage her/him to touch, smell or even taste new dishes. Most importantly, do not label her/him as a picky eater. This will eliminate her/his feelings of being different. To win the battle, patience is the ultimate tool that you need to armour yourself with.
Picky eating in both adults and children is far more rampant than is widely known. But if we spread awareness and try varied steps, we can definitely tackle this problem to a great extent and beat the genes.