How long could you survive strictly on Ramen noodles? For one teenager, it’s been thirteen years and counting. 18-year-old Georgi Readman was a picky eater as a child, but when she turned five, she suddenly cut out all foods – except ramen noodles. It may sound like a funny quirk, but it’s actually a serious health disorder. Georgi’s doctors say she’s malnourished and has the health of an 80-year-old.

All those instant noodles have wreaked havoc on her organs, and put her on the fast track to everything from stunted growth – to low IQ – to heart and kidney damage. Every ramen package has almost an entire day’s worth of sodium. And excessive salt intake can cause anemia. Even scarier, doctors warn that her noodle diet has probably shortened her lifespan.

And while noodle-only diets are pretty uncommon, experts warn that many children are at risk of spiraling from picky eater to extreme eater. And a lot of parents give in to the demands of their children, because it's easier than arguing. But there are ways to nip picky eating in the bud:

  • Be persistent. Researchers say that children need to try a new food approximately fifteen times before they’ll accept it. But, most parents give up after three times.
  • Get your child cooking. When children feel involved in preparing the food the family eats, they’re much more likely to eat it.
  • Never bribe your kids to eat healthy foods. If you do, they’ll associate healthy foods with punishment – and expect a reward for eating the way they should. But 1-out-of-every-3 parents bribe their kids with sweets to finish their vegetables. Instead, just put away the sweets – period. If salad is what’s for dinner and there’s no alternative, kids will eventually eat salad.

Lesson Expert

Meredith McKenna