Jan Gambino Jan Gambino's Blog

Going for the Gold: World Class Picky Eater

Michael Phelps may be a world class swimmer but he sure isn’t a Gold Medal level picky eater! Look at what he eats: two cups of coffee, a bowl of grits, three fried egg sandwiches with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayo, three slices of French toast with sugar and three chocolate chip pancakes. That’s just his breakfast! My guess is he isn’t an athlete with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) either.

Rebecca: World Class Picky Eater

You may have heard that my daughter Rebecca used to be a World Famous Picky Eater. She never competed in any events but I am sure she would have been in the top 3 and could have achieved Gold Medal status with little effort.

Here is the breakfast of my Gold Medal level picky eater at age four:

cup dry cereal
4 ounces watered down apple juice

ham and mayo sandwich on wheat bread
4 ounces of watered down apple juice

2 Tbsp. chicken
3 Tbsp. rice

So what does a picky eater look like?

Unfortunately, Pediatric GERD and picky eating go hand in hand. I have assembled a list of the top characteristics of a picky eater.

  • Gags or looks sick from the sight of food. Some toddlers will react to the sight of eating utensils such as spoon, cup and bib.
  • Smells and examines food tentatively before eating, especially when approaching a new food.
  • Takes a tentative lick with the very tip (and I mean VERY tip) of her tongue.
  • Makes an immediate and firm appraisal of the food item based on the smell/look/lick test and declares it: ok or completely off limits forever more. End of subject. The End.
  • Is brand specific. You must serve Brand X chicken nuggets and not the kind on sale this week at the food store.
  • Only eats a few types of food or a limited number of food groups. May omit entire food groups (think fruits and vegetables).
  • Often prefers a carbohydrate rich diet.
  • May adhere to the “white diet” and only eat potatoes, pasta, bread and crackers.
  • Gags or looks upset when watching someone else eat a non preferred food.

So what do you think? Do you have a world class picky eater in your home? Don’t be discouraged. It is most likely a stage and your child will learn to expand her feeding skills in time. Meanwhile, remember that she isn’t doing this to punish you or pull your chain. She knows eating hurts and she is trying to fix the problem as best she can. Pretty smart for a young child!

I am glad to report that my picky eater moved on to other sporting events and is no longer a picky eater. We teamed up and found the foods, mealtime schedules and eating habits to stop participating in the picky eating Olympics.


Check with your
doctor first!