Why Building the Right Relationship with Eating is Important

Every parent may lay claim to their child being the pickiest eater, and yes picky eating is quite common among children. This picky eating habit can carry over into adulthood. Your child is just stubborn with food or has some kind of medical issue that needs to be addressed, building a good relationship with eating is important nonetheless.


They develop damaging selective intake

When children do not have a good relationship with food, they will develop bad eating habits. They can be habits that range from saying they are full without barely taking a bite or refusing food all together.1, 2

  • This can stem from being forced to finish all that is on their plate.
  • It may have also been caused by a rewarding practice you may have done with them, eg. no TV or Playtime unless the meal is finished.
  • If they were ill often in the past, foods similar to those they ate then can trigger a loss of appetite as well.
  • Giving into a child’s demands or being overbearing, will eventually develop legitimate behavioral eating problems.
  • When they are picky about what they eat, you may find they will gorge on what they like.
  • They can also associate negative feelings with food and may even become aggressive in refusing.
  • They will refuse food simply because of its color, texture, or smell even when it is healthy, thus greatly limiting their nutritional options.


It will have an effect on their growth

Unfavorable relationship with eating is important not only for regulating appetite, but also important for a child’s wellbeing. A child who does not eat well will:1, 2

  • Have stunted growth with fragile bones.
  • Thin and petite for their age or at risk of childhood obesity due to inability to regulate nutrition.
  • Immunity will be weakened due to lack of beneficial vitamins and minerals.
  • Cognitive functions like stamina, concentration, and reaction time will falter too. This leads to doing poorly in academia and social interaction due to self confidence from weakness.


Tips on how to Improve

These are not solid rules, but concepts to keep in mind when developing a good relationship with eating in your children:1, 2

  1. Set a good example with yourself
  2. Do not use food or play time as a reward
  3. Do not hold any fun activities or favorite foods hostage
  4. Do not disallow certain foods just because you do not like them
  5. Do not force perfection



  1. https://pediasurearabia.com/ae/en/what-is-pediaSure/right-appettite
  2. https://www.nurturelife.com/blog/kids-food-creating-positive-relationship/