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"My 15-year-old has always been a picky eater. She still refuses to venture beyond "toddler foods," such as pizza and chicken nuggets. She takes a long-acting stimulant and is very thin. What can I do?"
I have had some success by using behavioral therapy to get a child to expand her food list if she is willing to make the effort. However, the standard recommendation is, if your child stays on her height and weight growth curves, hang in there. With age, the problem will likely improve. Until then, use food supplements and vitamins to ensure adequate nutrition.
Also, her medication may be affecting her appetite. Note whether she is not only picky in choosing her foods, but also eats very little. Compare her appetite when she is on and off the medication. It might be necessary to try a different medication.
You say your daughter is very thin—if she falls below the range of average weights for her height, alert your family physician.
Larry Silver, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is a former acting director and deputy director of the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as the author of Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on AD/HD and The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities.