PICKY EATING SERIES No.3
Why are you worried about picky eating?
I’m not being facetious! I honestly want to ask you what are your concerns surrounding your child’s eating and see if we can address them.
It is important to look at your child’s intake over the course of the week. Keep a food diary if it helps. If over the course of the week, if your child eats something at most meals and has consumed some protein, some carbs, some fruit and/or veg and some fats then they are doing ok. If they are growing, are full of energy, can concentrate on a task (as appropriate for their age), and have a regular bowel movement then there is absolutely no need to worry.
If you continue to offer a variety of foods for your child to choose from and don’t pressure them to eat specific foods then in the long-term it is likely that they will develop a healthy relationship with food or at least as healthy as any other adults!
If their intake remains limited for some time, the nutrient that a child is most likely to be deficient in is iron, which can easily be tested for by your GP. Everything else tends to be ok and a children’s multivitamin can help in the meantime. Even the fussiest of children tend to get enough energy, protein and fats. Whatever fruits and vegetables they do like will provide them with helpful micronutrients and fibre. Make sure they are offered these regularly and keep offering new ones or model eating them to help them branch out.
If your child loves foods that are high in sugar or salt, it is important that you don’t just offer these foods, but also remember that these foods won’t harm them. As long as you look after their teeth, these foods might be useful in getting them to branch out and try other foods e.g. fruit dipped in chocolate, sugar on pancakes, crisps in a sandwich.
It can be difficult outside of the home at friends or family, childcare or school, but if you explain in advance what your child’s preferences are and ask people not to discuss it or pressurise them, then you needn’t be embarrassed or avoid the situation.
If you can reduce your worry, this will reduce the stress around mealtimes and hopefully any pressure being put on the child will be lifted allowing mealtimes to become more enjoyable. This is the start of the child being able to explore eating under their own terms and will result in better eating long-term.