This article will reveal why picky eaters love crunchy foods and often struggle to eat protein, vegetables, and fruit. You can also find suggestions to help your picky eater learn to comfortably eat more variety.
You’ve probably noticed this. Your picky eater struggles to eat protein and vegetables (and sometimes fruit, too). But they have no problem eating packaged snacks and sweets like chips, cookies, puffs, and pretzels.
Crunchy foods, particularly crunchy packaged snacks, are a favorite among kids and especially picky eaters.
Have you ever wondered why picky eaters love crunchy foods?
Crunchy packaged snacks are predictable in taste and consistency. Every single bite is the same. Every.Single.Bite. Beyond that, every single back or box is the same. Your child always knows what they’re going to get when they open the package of their favorite crunchy snack. It always has the same flavor, smell, consistency and look.
Crunchy foods are predictable and feel safe to kids. Beyond predictability and sameness, the crunch feels good in their body.
That is why picky eaters love crunchy foods.
I know it can be frustrating when your child only wants snack foods. Remember, it is normal for your child to prefer crunchy foods!
But why are fruits, vegetables, and protein so challenging for picky eaters?
Think about how different these foods are from packaged sweets and crunchy foods. Fruits, vegetables, and protein are all unpredictable.
You don’t experience the same texture, flavor or appearance each time when you eat fresh produce or most proteins like you do with chips, crackers, veggie straws, goldfish or puffs. They’re inconsistent, so eating them feels like a risk for a hesitant eater. You never know what you’re getting yourself into.
Additionally, fruits, vegetables, and protein are also more difficult to chew and manipulate in the mouth, so eating these foods can be a lot of work.
An apple can be sweet, sour, crisp or mealy. It can taste so good, but it can also be disappointing if it isn’t quite right. There are also countless apple varieties. Children aren’t the best at identifying differences or spotting things like bruises, so they can easily take a bite of something they weren’t expecting.
The same goes for vegetables and meats. Every single bite can have a different taste and texture.
It’s not just your child
Packaged snacks are easy to eat and more reliable. Kids – and not just those with eating challenges – love the sensory input eating a crunchy food provides. Beyond that, snacks and packaged foods like cereal are actually designed to be craveable and addictive.
There’s also potentially a biological reason why vegetables are challenging for kids. Children naturally prefer sweet flavors and are more sensitive to bitter tastes than adults and young babies.
One way to work with your child’s preferences is to focus on offering sweet vegetables or adding sweet flavors to vegetables to make the bitter flavor less strong.
These are just some of the reasons why picky eaters love crunchy foods and why yours might be gravitating towards sweet and crunchy packaged snacks while only eating a few fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Remember, it’s not your fault and it’s not theirs, either. They’re not trying to be a nuisance! They’re struggling to eat and still learning to like more complex foods.
These resources can help your picky eater learn to enjoy a healthier diet: