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Children can be incredibly fussy eaters. It doesn’t take long for children to develop their own minds, shaping their likes, dislikes and opinions. With that being said, is it any wonder that parents can start to face daily battles to feed their children? Refusing to eat their greens, only eating brand specific foods and texture sensitivity are only to name a few of the issues children can present to their parents.
It’s important to remember that they aren’t just being stubborn, there are a few underlying factors that could be contributing to their fussy behaviour.
Some kids are always hungry and it’s easy as parents to fall into the trap of giving them snacks on command. This constant snacking can affect their appetite when it comes to sitting down as a family in the evening. Snacking on foods such as crisps, sweets and chocolate can also cause their blood sugars to spike and drop, affecting their mood and behaviour as well as their energy and concentration.
Bitter and sweet flavours can be an issue as some children are more sensitive than others. Breastfeeding can accelerate flavour learning, influencing preferences of bitter or sweet tastes.[i] Frequent ear infections can also affect preferences as the nerve that communicates taste to the brain can be damaged through the ear, leading to high trans-fat foods as a preference. [ii] However, it’s not always the taste that can deter children from certain foods, it can also be the smell, colour and appearance of food. Hypersensitivity in the mouth is quite common with some children chewing out of habit. A common example is chewing their school jumper.[iii]
Children with weak digestion may have issues with certain foods as they associate it with pain and discomfort. Whether it be past or present issues, the psychological connections of food with pain are there. Previous health problems such as colic, reflux, frequent antibiotic use, diarrhoea and constipation can all be underlying factors.
Fussy eating can create a never ending circle, meaning that a diet lacking in variety can cause nutrient deficiencies, such as zinc. Zinc is important for our sense of smell and taste, making certain foods taste bland or unpleasant if we are deficient. [iv]
So, what’s the solution?
There are a few options you can try to help eliminate food behavioural problems, preventing any potential unhealthy eating habits as adults:
Of course, not all solutions will be successful, as kids will be kids, but establishing healthy eating habits and an enthusiastic attitude towards food early on, can be detrimental to avoid your child being ‘funny about foods’.
Got a question?
The brand you can talk to:
We have a team of Clinical Nutritionists at the end of our advice line, open to you, for product support and advice (5 days a week). 0121 433 8702 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Or head to our advice page where you can find Healthnotes.
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[i] Mennella JA Pediatrics. 2001 Jun;107(6):E88. 2. Peracchio HL et al Physiol Behav. 2012 May 15;106(2):264-71
[ii] Healthy Hearing ‘Obesity and Ear Infections In Kids: More Proof That We Are What We Eat’. Accessed: 1st August 2017
[iii] Cermak SA, Curtin C, Bandini LG. Food selectivity and sensory sensitivity in children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2010;110(2):238-246. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2009.10.032.