Why a Child's Healthy Eating Consultation?Most of us are aware of the context we live in today including the huge amount of unhealthy food available most places, the vast money manufacturers spend on advertising unhealthy food to kids, and that foods which are most processed are not necessarily the best for our children.
In addition there are many, other reasons to seek the help of a Child's Healthy Eating Specialist:
Many products we eat every day like breakfast cereals are marketed as 'low fat' etc but most of these are high in sugar. Similarly cereal bars that are marketed as 'breakfast on the go' can have sugar levels of up to 40%. Many of our kids are eating too much of these foods, without realising what they contain.
Many kids gravitate to eating the easiest foods
because they are a quick source of energy. Yet these dont provide long lasting energy as most of the nutrients have been removed eg fibre. This results in frequent low sugar levels
(ie your child is running out of fuel
for both their body and mind
). This may result in your child being irritable, losing concentration, getting suddenly sleepy etc.
Grazing is common for many children. This means eating small amounts of foods throughout the day, between structured snacks and meals. This may result in a child being overweight if they're eating too much unhealthy foods. Alternatively a child may become underweight if they're not eating sufficient nutrients.
Some children have strong preferences for certain foods and only want to eat these foods. In addition if they are unwilling to try new foods
, and then stop eating some of these preferred foods, then their options are further reduced.
Many kids go through phases of not eating certain foods, like excluding whole food groups. This can result in your child not getting their required range of nutrients and may adversely affect their development during these crucial years. Our immune system, for example, is large and complex and needs a variety of different vitamins and minerals. In addition another concern is that fussy eating persists in the long-term. Research shows that at least 25% of typically developing kids won’t grow out of picky eating.
The longer a child is a fussy eater eg not eating any vegetables, the more it can become a habit and become the 'norm'. This means the longer and more challenging it takes to turn the picky eating around. Therefore the earlier you can tackle this, the easier. Unknown to many people, research shows that young kids don’t have stable food preferences.
Of course its natural for parents to feel anxious when they’re worried about whether their child is getting enough essential nutrients etc. These concerns are often sensed by your child and it can have a negative impact on the child's eating. Research shows stress reduces digestive activity and the result is often a child can’t absorb all of the nutrients they need. Many children are low or deficient, for example, in zinc. A common sign of this is an impaired sense of taste and/ or smell, with the possible consequence of diminished appetite and/ picky eating.
When is it a good time to get help?
While picky eating usually shows up between ages 2 and 6, when the toddler starts to show a desire to be independent; yet its very difficult to know if this ‘phase’ is going to last.
Therefore here’s what to watch for:
- Your child has experienced weight loss or isn't growing.
- Your child refuses to eat major food groups such as vegetables or protein foods.
- If the list of acceptable foods is short or declining over time.
- Your child demonstrates a negative response to new foods including signs of distress or anxiety, such as crying, anger, or tantrums.
- Your child is overweight. It’s a myth to assume fussy eaters are thin. Some picky eaters become overweight because they eat too many unhealthy foods and not enough vegetables and whole grains etc.
- Your child is resistant to subtle changes in food e.g., if its served differently to how “exactly they like it,” or changes in their preferred brands etc.
- Your child mainly eats different foods from the rest of the family.