Understanding Fussy/picky eating in Kids

A detailed understanding on Fussy/picky eating

Haven’t we heard about fussy/picky eating enough? But is your child really a fussy/picky eater or has food neophobia?

Hence, first let’s understand these terminologies but before that it’s imperative to know that fussy/picky eating and food neophobia are common behaviors during childhood and fussy/picky eating is often confused with food neophobia.

Fussy/picky eating is defined as the consumption of an inadequate variety or quantity of foods through the rejection of a substantial amount of both familiar and unfamiliar foods whereas food neophobia is a related concept and refers to the unwillingness to eat new foods.

Certainly, now we would think twice before terming child a fussy eater because mealtime battles is a common bustle for almost every household, isn’t it?

Now, let’s dive deep into Fussy/picky eating and its various aspects to it:

How normal is to term out fussy eater to my child?

Scrupulously, when it comes to fussy/picky eaters there are so many factors and variables involved that are normal but the most important factor is to understand a typical intake of food and behavior especially when they are offered food.

It is usually noticed that the nutritional imbalance is fulfilled in 5 days when kids are offered food based on their preference and desired quantity.

Causes of fussy eating

  • First and the foremost is the Medical reason: Kids might be constipated, suffering from flu, fever, diarrhoea etc. In this case, the usual source of comfort would be milk but it is very important to not over feed it or else it might be a dependent source even on regular days which does not provide all the nutrients in the right amount for the day.
  • Relying completely on processed, packaged and sugary foods: Kids see comfort in packaged foods and this sends out wrong message to the child as to how food should be presented, tasted and look different each time. Hence, if a child never eats from a package it will never know that the option exists.
  • Unfamiliarity of food: It’s important to introduce kids with new foods to create a familiarity by letting them play with it in the kitchen and let them get messy with their hands during mealtimes. This will ultimately help in eradicating the fear they have with unfamiliar food and accept it quite well the next time.
  • Force Feeding: Avoid being a control freak and a force feeder at mealtimes. Let kids decide and enjoy food by themselves so that they have a healthy relationship around food.
  • Including too much of one food group: The most common and easy food group to offer is the milk but let’s get this straight as far as you are constantly offering milk when the child is hungry he/she won’t make the effort to accept other food groups.

Is there any health risks involved with fussy eaters?

Various studies have pointed out that health risk associated with fussy eating is low however fussy eaters do tend to have lower intakes of vitamin E, vitamin C, folate and fiber which may lead to a weak immune response and digestive problems.

Advices to deal with fussy eaters

  • Responsive feeding: Parents must observe the hunger cues and let the child decide on how much to eat.
  • Eliminate the threats: Don’t be worried and stressed all the time that child is a fusspot; eventually kids will learn to eat.
  • Don’t bribe: Stop attempting to bribe a fussy eating toddler with sweets in order to get her to finish her vegetables. This will surely backfire as their brains are naïve to understand such concept of bribing for good.
  • Respect their choices: Young children eat what they like. So, it’s extremely important for us to not offer food which they completely disregard like for example kids do not like bitter taste, thereby interfering it with other vegetable potentially limits intake of important nutrients.
  • Adapt the mealtimes: Kids stomach is as small as their clenched fists. Therefore, it’s important to plan small frequent meals to fit it into their small tummies.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: It is natural that parents and other caregivers cherish their children. Most importantly fussy/picky eating is a spectrum for preference which everyone has but it becomes a problem only when it is getting in the way of nutrition, growth and general wellbeing of the child.