This short podcast is for parents who want actionable strategies to conquer picky eating disorder.

Picky eating or self-restricted eating can be a vicious cycle of nutrient deficiency, inflammation, gut issues and more restricted eating.

Follow this 5 step technique to break this cycle and shift from inflammation to diversity.

You can find more actionable strategies in my free ebook that you can download at:



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Disclaimer: The information in this Podcast is for educational purposes only. Vaishnavi Sarathy, Ph.D. is an educator, not a doctor, specifically not your child’s doctor. Please consult your physician before implementing any supplement or diet recommendations.

Audio Transcription: 


Hi there, welcome to functional nutrition and learning for kids. I’m your host Vaish. I am a functional nutrition consultant, chemistry and math teacher, and mom to a 14-year-old with Down syndrome and autism. I’m here to help you raise your child’s baseline his health is focused for learning her moods, and tolerance for foods special through the use of sensible nutrition and learning strategies that hid the basics. Because as we all know, when you neglect the foundation, the house falls apart.

Today we’re going to talk about specific actionable strategies and we’re really hitting the basics today. And these strategies are to modify and conquer picky eating in your child. Now picky eating in children, as I often say, can be taught caught in vicious cycles of inflammation, allergies, gut issues, nutrient deficiencies, and restricted eating. So let’s say this again, this vicious cycle. And if you can imagine a cycle, think about at different points in the cycle. There’s gut inflammation, digestive issues, gut issues in general allergies, and nutrient deficiencies, all of these can cause further restricted eating and restricted eating can cause this one by one. Okay, one makes the other worse in a vicious spiral that’s often hard to control.

We’re going to be taking the first steps today to get out of this spiral. Okay, in the world of picky eating, there is now a spectrum of self-restricted eaters that are mildly choosy. And they go all the way to a diagnosis of arfid, an RFID, which stands for avoidant restrictive food intake disorder. But I want to start by encouraging you not to get attached to labels. Because labels are helpful when you’re speaking to a practitioner when you’re describing your child’s condition to a caregiver to a provider to a doctor. But when you are actually doing the work, a label is at best useless and at worse, harmful because it puts your child in a box, and boxes get in the way, the best ways to address problems we all know are stepping outside boxes.

Now that you are outside the box, step one of the five steps that we’re going to discuss today is to pick up your favorite notebook and pen. Okay, we’re going to call stationary for a little bit, we’re going to turn on your favorite music, we’re going to start a brainstorming session. And the reason we have your favorite notebook and music and coffee is to make this fun. Okay, going to set a timer for 10 minutes and write down a list of every food that your child likes to eat. Now, don’t panic, if you feel that 10 minutes is a long time. And if you feel you could list all the foods they eat in one minute or less, just know that you’re not alone. And that I would still like you to sit with the 10 minute timer.

When we give ourselves a time. And when we sit at an activity for that time, you know with the to brainstorm right? You may be amazed at what comes out of it right? Maybe an idea may be a food that you’ve forgotten about completely that your child used to laugh may appear out of nowhere. So if you like and if you’re ready, pause the podcast and start your timer. Now. In step two, you’re going to take all of these foods and strip them down to their ingredients.

I’m not going to list a timer for this. But it could take you anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour. So you’re going to take another sheet of paper and write on what this food is made up of. For example, if your child will eat only pizza, you’re going to like cheese, white flour, salt is tomatoes, maybe spices and preservatives, if you’re buying food from outside. Now, if you were doing pretzels, they would be flour, salt, oil, and maybe East right. So this kind of stuff, you’re just breaking them down to their core ingredients. This is a little bit of work. But I assure you this is worth it.

Tracking is one of the most important tools we have breaking things down tracking, writing journals and diaries and actually sitting with our thoughts is one of the best tools we have to attack any problem. For step three, we’re going again to a 10-minute timer. Take another sheet of paper draw a vertical line through the middle splitting the page into two long hops on one side, put a positive sign plus write plus sign or talking nutrients, good foods right? And on the other side, just put a minus sign that’s all we’re doing. So very obvious pluses stuff that’s adding to your child’s value nutritive value minus is taking away inflammation or just not nutrient-dense or junk.

Now put everything that is sugar, dairy, wheat, preservatives, flavoring, MSG, generally associated with processed food in the negative column, even if you’re making wheat flour at home, because there is a lot of correlation between consumption of wheat and inflammation and the same for dairy and sugar. For now, let’s just put that in the minus column.

You will not have any wheat, peanuts, dairy, sugar, preservatives, or natural or artificial flavors in the plus column. They’re all going to go in the minus column right? Things like maltodextrin, corn starch, sugar, and anything GMO Everything is going into the minus column. This step is purely instructional in nature. What you have remaining under the plus column is what is going into your child is nutrition as food that is building and providing your child with their building blocks with the macronutrients, with their micronutrients while not inflaming your child at the same time, while not adding to that cycle, that vicious cycle we talked about earlier of inflammation and restricted eating and nutrient density.

Right? You may be surprised by what you end up finding in the plus column. Since we’re not putting inflammatory foods like wheat, dairy and sugar in the plus column, maybe you’re left with things like tomatoes, eggs, and potatoes. And maybe that’s it, maybe there’s white rice, right? This step is important, but it gives you a real, if harsh look into what the nutritional intake of your child is. Now before you get disheartened, and please don’t be because no matter what, what it is, it’s okay.

We’re just taking stock, whatever your child is eating, it’s perfectly fine. It’s okay to start where you are. It’s not just picky eaters who have a poor nutritional profile in today’s matrix of processed foods and weak guts, and environmental toxins. Anybody can do this test to see what their kids are eating or what even you are eating right. And be surprised what to do about this. If step three is to wake you up to your pain point. Step four is where you make the change. Go back to the food list you wrote for your child in step one.

Now choose one food, okay, just choose one of those foods. Find a recipe for this book that would fall entirely or as much as you can in the plus column. Okay. So for example, if you’re eating pretzels made out of wheat from a bag, maybe you could do a whole grain gluten-free pretzel, I like Quinn’s whole grain pretzels that are if you’re if you don’t know how to make a pretzel or if you would rather just get it from a bag. I like this brand qu I NN i believe there are many more gluten-free pretzels, but they also end up being a little junky Queen seem to be more or less whole grain. Now let’s not kid ourselves.

This is still processed food, anything you get from a bag is processed food. But at least in this case, most of the ingredients would be a plus, I do see some organic cane sugar in there, but it’s a pretty good first start. Now the deal is that taste is important because your child needs to eat it. And it needs to be similar to a certain level with the food that they like, right. Depending on your child’s level of self-restriction, it may need to be enormously similar to the to the foods that they like. Now I have another brand that I really liked simple mills. And when they do crackers and cookies, they actually don’t use any of the minus ingredients at all. I don’t think they make pretzels yet though.

However, these are a few brands that you can start up with. It does involve reading a lot of labels, of course, home-cooked food, you don’t need to eat read labels, I’m sorry. And it takes a lot of workout but it also puts in a lot of work. Step four is not magic, it’s going to take time and effort, right. But step four is where the change happens. Okay, and we’re going really slow so that it’s not overwhelming to you or your child, you’re just taking one food, simply taking one food and transferring it from falling into a minus category predominantly to a plus category or making that food anti-inflammatory. And let us not trivialize the value of that this is an enormous change on a gut level for your child.

The results may take time to be apparent, but especially if your child is still eating other inflammatory foods, it will happen. Okay, there is much more you can do in the in the realm of eating an anti-inflammatory diet, but we’re doing a very basic level of change here, which is enormously effective. In step five, I would ask that you come back and pull out your favorite notebook, you can do another notebook or the same one. Make it a beautiful journal, your favorite pen because again, this needs to be something that you end up enjoying as an activity. And we’re going to start tracking this change. For example, how many foods have you modified today? What is the response been?

Keep noting how long is it has taken for your child to accept this food? Don’t give up. That is the idea. Let’s not give up. It takes many introductions. Many many introductions before children accept new foods introduced, introduced and go slow. Start with small variations. Step four and five are where the meat of the work is. And the beauty of the change is as you change and track and change and track you’ll notice that your child’s palate changes before your eyes. Before we wrap up, let’s review steps one through five. Okay.

It’s really important that you have Coffee Music and everything going at this time. Okay, we’re going to make this a really fun activity. Step one, jot down what your child eats now. 10-minute timer right. Step two lists the ingredients of the foods that he or she eats and breaks the foods down. Step three, take the ingredients and divide them into a plus or minus list based on the nutrient density and inflammation potential.

In the minus list, we’ll go with dairy, sugar, preservatives, anything that’s a non-food, anything that is severely processed, okay, generally Whole Foods other than wheat and dairy will go into the plus list. Step four, change one food at a time from your first step from your first list into a plus food all through, and make it anti-inflammatory. Step five, track changes and progress in your favorite journal with a mug of coffee and some music.

Remember that there’s also a free eBook resource for you at this link that I’m going to read out right now. So go ahead, and open another tab. And if you’re on your computer, or on, you can do this on your phone too, at www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/eatwell, again, that’s www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/eatwell. And this is where you can actually find specific actionable resources that can further break the wall of picky eating. It was wonderful talking to you today.

I’m really happy to talk about these five steps because tracking and tracking changes, noting down changes making lists is one of my favorite activities. Even if the cost is a little stressful. It’s never easy to watch your child eat the same foods continuously. And I hope that you found today’s podcast actionable and I hope that it actually translates to some change for you. Today’s music was by my daughter, Maitri and I can’t wait to meet you again next week. Bye