The “Beige Food Eater”

A recent question sent to me for the Q and A;

Keep sending your worries about feeding your kids to: donna@donnafish.com

Q: My 2 and a half year old daughter who used to be a pretty adventurous eater, now only eats white or beige food; I really worry about how much protein she is or isn’t getting!

A: Ah, the “Beige Food Eater” I call them; your daughter is precocious; this style of eating usually hits 4 or 5 year olds!

Most importantly, this style of eater is very typical of childhood, which is why I gave the them their own identifying ‘food personality’ along with the “Picky Eaters”, the “Sugar Demanders”, the “Grazers”, and the “Trouble Transitioners”. Like astrological signs, it is rare that one child fits one type perfectly; it’s usually mix and match!

But it is totally normal for parents of kids who only eat ‘white or beige’ food to worry either that their kid will never eat a vegetable, (no greens touching the plate, please!), or like this parent, that your child won’t get enough protein since all beige food seems to be carbs!

When I was writing Step One for my book, Talk to Your Kids About Nutrition, I consulted with Joy Bauer, RD; (nutritionist for the Today Show) who helped clarify exactly how much protein in fact, kids age 9 months to 9 years old actually do need a day. More importantly, how did that relate to real food, I didn’t only want to know the grams they needed. So here is the info in answer to the question posed today:

On average, a 1 to 3 year old child needs about 16 grams of protein per day. Roughly, it works out to .54 grams of protein per lb. of the weight of your child. Example: If your child weighs 29 lbs., he/she needs about 16 grams of protein per day.

This roughly translates in the following way:

An 8 oz. sippy cup of regular or chocolate milk contains 8 grams of protein.
1 ounce of cheddar cheese has about 7 grams of protein
1 TBLS. of peanut butter contains 4 grams of protein
1 oz. of chicken, even in nugget form, contains 7 grams of protein
8 ounces of yogurt contains 8 to 12 grams of protein

Pick the beige foods that your child will eat, (usually that includes white,) and lay them out on their plate. Perhaps you might offer the protein options first if you are truly worried that all they’re getting is carbs. Perhaps a slice of pizza with cheese, and a glass of milk. If you are worried about veggies, how about mashed up cauliflower with some cheese in it?

More than likely your ‘Beige Food Eater’ is already meeting their protein requirements and you can relax. Like most stages that they are going to go through, this too, (most likely), shall pass!

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