A new study suggests that children who are hesitant to try new foods even during their adolescence may have a poor diet and also suffer from low self-esteem and anxiety problems. However, forcing them to try these foods at the dining table against their will may also backfire, the researchers warned.(Children with Picky Eating Habits Maybe at Risk for Depression)This seems to be a typical phase during infant development, mostly experienced by 2 to 3 year-olds and which subsides around the age of five. Maiz conducted the study on 831 school children between the age of eight and 16. In the study, she used questionnaires on infant neophobia -- in which the participants were asked about whether they were prepared to eat new foodstuffs. Neophobia is the fear or dislike of anything new or unfamiliar.(Is it Tough for You to Make Decisions? Read This)The neophobic participants displayed a lower quality index in terms of the Mediterranean diet, and this is mainly due to the reduced consumption of fruit and vegetables and an increase in foods regarded as being for occasional consumption. Both in childhood and adolescence, the neophobes were more anxious than their peers. (Fussy eaters - how to get your child to try nutritious food)Likewise, with respect to self-esteem, neophobes scored less than those who like to try new foods in the five dimensions -- family, social, physical, emotional and academic -- studied within self-concept. In adolescence, their scores in family and physical self-concept were lower.(A New Approach to Raising Healthy Eaters)To avoid this problem it is important that there exists a strong parental bond with the child, said researcher Edurne Maiz from University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) in Spain. She also recommended "having a relaxed, pleasant atmosphere at meal times, that the children should participate in preparing the food and doing the shopping, using positive reinforcements and, finally, being a good model".Dr. Shalini Singhal, a Nutritionist from New Delhi advises not to force feed your children, "If children are afraid of trying new foods, we should assess the environment in which the food is being served to them. An unpleasant environment can create a picky eater. Force feeding should not be practiced as it might either lead to aversion to many foods or inability to self regulate. Let your child understand his hunger cues. Do not reward your child when he eats and also do not punish them when he they don't clear their plate. These can reinforce poor eating habits in children. Serve him a smaller portion, let him finish it and then serve more."
For the latest food news, health tips and recipes, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and YouTube.