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Children's Health: Funny About Foods

Children's Health: Funny About Foods
By Administrator 9 days ago 7054 Views

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:

  • As soon as you notice the same foods being left on the plate, keep persisting. Repeatedly serving this food with positivity can help stop fussy eating in its tracks.
  • Let them in the kitchen to help out! Getting them involved with stirring the pot and washing the vegetable for example, can make them feel enthusiastic about eating a meal that they helped to make. Growing vegetables, fruit, herbs and spices at home, with the children helping to pick, prepare and cook the food for their meals. This will help them learn where their food comes from and supports a healthy relationship with food.
  • As parents, you really are their role models, so it’s important that an example is set for them to follow. Eating vegetables with them in a family meal at the dinner table is really important and trying new foods together as a family will help take away the fear of new foods. Often using familiar herbs and spices to flavour the new food can be a gentler approach.
  • Try not to be too forceful with them. Although it is frustrating, repeatedly telling them off during mealtimes when they won’t eat their food can often make fussy eating worse, as this creates an atmosphere of pressure and stress for them. Whilst it is important not to give in, a one bite rule is usually a good way to negotiate with them.
  • Reducing their stress levels in general during the day is also important, encouraging creative play during the day/after school.
  • Providing them with a healthy after school snack such as carrots and hummus is a healthier alternative to crisps and chocolate, as the healthier option won’t sky rocket their blood sugars.
  • Providing nutritional supplements to support digestive issues and possible nutrient deficiencies can also be supportive, such as live bacteria and a multi nutrient.

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’.


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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.

[iv] Levenson CW. ‘Zinc regulation of food intake: new insights on the role of neuropeptide Y’. Nutr Rev. 2003 Jul;61(7):247-9.

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