By: Miriam Vicovan
Americans are widely known as having a limited taste palette in relation to most of the developed world. A typical American restaurant will boast a wide variety of burger, steak, and french fry options, leaving little opportunity for hungry eyes to peruse other portions of the menu. It’s tempting to attribute a tame taste palette to limited food options and or learned behavior, but many medical professionals continue to argue that the issue of picky eating can be more complex and elusive in some situations.
When Pamela Druckerman wrote her New York Times best selling book, Bringing up Bebe, she observed her French counterparts as having an easier time getting their children to eat a wider variety of foods during mealtime. She curiously watched tame French children at Parisian restaurants while her own children, unwilling to eat an adult dinner, squirmed in anguish. Although Druckerman appears to have been onto something during her observations, her observations were just that – observations. According to feeding expert, Smita Joshi, MS, CCC-SLP, whenever there is extreme picky eating, oftentimes it is the body’s response to an underlying issue that we need to take heed of. Within the course of her 25 years as a therapist and after treating and helping hundreds of families, Joshi has found that there can be more factors contributing to feeding issues apart from the behavioral issues presented on the surface. This isn’t to say that Druckerman’s observations should be disregarded, but it is rather forcing us to confront this misconception and erase assumptions about pediatric feeding issues that, evidently, are not all behavioral.
According to a National Prevalence Study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, more than one in 37 children under the age of five, and more than one in five children with a chronic disease experience severe Pediatric Feeding Disorders in the US annually. When confronting the data, it seems remiss that someone would even consider chalking up this issue to picky eating but it’s done impulsively.
On April 6, 2021, governor JB Pritzker signed a proclamation making the month of May Pediatric Feeding Awareness month for all Illinoisans. This is a huge win for the medical community who for decades has worked hard to shed light on the intricacies of feeding disorders. Parents who have had to confront this issue, sometimes silently, see this as no shock as they are finally given public validation for the issues they’ve known of for so long. The implications of this recognition will undoubtedly seep through to all aspects of the medical community and will, hopefully, challenge long-held beliefs toward feeding.
As a pediatric office that specializes in feeding disorders, Assential Therapies could not be more thrilled and excited to build upon this newfound acknowledgment as it further solidifies and lends credibility to the hard work we do for the community and beyond.
Westminster, Md.: Books on Tape. Druckerman, Pamela and Abby. Craden, Bringing Up Bébé: [one American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting]. Westminster, Md.: Books on Tape, 2012.