Should we fuss about fussy eaters
The short answer is yes but more about that later.
I think it is fair to say that one of our jobs as parents is to raise children who bounce. And by bounce we mean have resilience – to be able to take some of the knocks and scrapes that happen in life.
Good food and nutrition is a pretty big part of being resilient. The food and eating habits that children develop in the first 1000 days of life are instrumental in their future health and well-being. What children eat in those early years can impact on the development of food allergies, gut health, immunity, taste preferences, adult weight, adult height, risk of chronic diseases, mood, brain development (IQ) and their relationship with food.
This is why Little Scholars have invited myself and our team of Dietitians at My Nutrition Clinic to update their menu to ensure that it provides at least 50% of your child’s daily nutrient requirements. This is the minimum amounts needed to ensure children have the opportunity to meet all of their nutrition requirements for optimum growth and development.
However, we know that making nutritious and wholesome food is only half the battle. We are only all too familiar with those sweet and high-pitched words ‘I don’t like it’. Which is why over the coming months, we will be providing lots of practical information through this blog on how to keep children eating healthy while keeping mealtimes stress free!
I believe there is a golden opportunity when children are toddlers to teach them all the good eating habits they will need to last them a lifetime. The power of peer learning and role modelling is extremely strong at this age and if we succumb to pester power and limit the variety of food in their diet early on then this will become the story of their lives. I see plenty of teenagers and adults in my line of work who hardly eat any vegetables and rely heavily on processed foods. It takes great will power to change these habits after 3-4 decades rather than change them when you are only 3 or 4 years of age.
There is lots of research to back up this claim, but I have also seen it first hand with my own children. It was only to be expected that a dietitian would have children who were fussy eaters. My son (first born) wouldn’t eat meat that wasn’t minced, didn’t like many vegetables and LOVED carbs. My daughter (2nd born) seemed to only eat meat, was fussy with vegetables and dislikes all carbs (except chips). They were sent to test me!!
I know first-hand how stressful it can be trying to give your children very carefully prepared meals for them only to be rejected. I remember the envy I felt watching my friend’s children happily munch on tomatoes and cucumber while mine did not. But there is a solution! Watch this space for tips, food ideas and guidance on this and a range of topics related to food and healthy little scholars!
Anna D’ArcyAccredited Practising Dietitian
Dietitian for 20 years and mum for 8 years