Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Is picky eating nature or nurture? Turns out it’s a little of both. Some research indicates that picky eating may be genetic and that genes play a larger role than environment when it comes to a kid’s fussiness with foods. (In other words, if your mom hates broccoli, you might also.) Other studies show that picky eating is a learned behavior from parents and siblings, and yet another study found that parents who label their child as picky may actually cause the child to assume that position.
It’s not uncommon for toddlers to be picky eaters, but this behavior can be worrisome when it continues into adolescence and adulthood and can develop into a disordered eating habit called avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder.
Multiple studies also show that lifetime picky eaters are more at risk for constipation, nutritional deficiencies and being underweight or overweight. If you have a picky eater in your household, it’s worth the time and patience to expand their healthy horizons in a non-pushy way: Introduce a new food several times, be consistent with mealtimes, avoid labeling them as picky, and set a good example by eating and trying new things yourself.