You might remember my facebook post on www.facebook.com/littlefusspot a few weeks ago saying:‘Just finished an intensive 3 hour consult with a mother of twins experiencing all of the top 5 causes of a fussy child. Hang in there it’s going to be a tough week!’Update: I’ve just finished treating this client in Ireland with twins who was experiencing all of the top 5 causes of a fussy child. The first two weeks were tough but she is now 4 weeks into the program and both twins are doing really well, one has even made a full recovery, eats all of his food groups daily and (‘willingly and excitedly’, mum writes) tries new foods on almost a daily basis.Mum writes: The boys have so much more energy now, thank you so much for all your help, it has really made a difference.
I was so inspired by the efforts that this particular mother put into getting these little boys on track. But how does one get to such a point that a child refuses meals, sometimes for days? I can assure you it wasn’t out of laziness or simply giving up. But out of pure love and worry she fed these boys exactly what they wanted and it’s a road so often travelled by my clients.
So what are the top 5 causes of a fussy eater you might ask?
1: Medical reasons: It’s quite often overlooked but happens to be my number one cause for treating clients. Constipation and acid reflux can be quite hard to detect and each has different causes. Acid reflux will quite often start when the child is purely on milk in the 4th trimester, it continues on and quite often stops when solids are introduced. A child will seek comfort in a bottle of milk or breast if in pain but what if it’s the cause of the reflux? Wouldn’t eating eventually become a little stressful for the infant if it resulted in pain each time? The same applies with constipation? A study in Palermo, Italy did a study on 65 children and discovered that dairy was the cause for chronic constipation.
For a child aged 1-3 the stool should represent the consistency of a raw sausage meat and should be regular each day. If you find that potty times are met with pain or that the stools are hard to pass, perhaps dairy could be the cause. I’d recommend reading this blog ‘when should my child give up having milk’ it might help you decide if you should start to make cut backs.
2: Reliance on processed, packaged and sugary foods: My child will only eat junk! Yes, a very common problem. Companies who place their marketing on packaging aren’t idiots, and they know that we are wising up to the contents of their colourful packaging, if you’re not there yet then educate yourself, you must watch documentaries such as Food Inc, Fat sick and nearly dead, and the children’s menu. Food companies aren’t in the business of eliminating the not so healthy ingredients because then it wouldn’t taste so good and therefore wouldn’t sell. It’s far cheaper to change what the packaging says. Sugar for instance, which we now know is highly addictive and being blamed for the western world’s obesity epidemic isn’t being reduced, its carefully re-written as raw sugar, cane sugar, or worse still an artificial sweetener is used so that they can boast that the contents is sugar free or ‘diet’. Kids see comfort in packaged foods, the morsel rarely changes in taste and variety and the packaging is usually very colourful and contains their favourite TV characters. How does packaging and sugary foods cause fussy eating? Packaged foods send the wrong message to the child as to how food should be presented and enjoyed. Home cooked food can’t be processed into an animal cracker, it varies each time in taste and look, and it’s virtually impossible to match the flavouring that the company adds to it because we don’t keep MSG, aspartame and artificial colours in our home pantry. If a child never eats from a package it will never know that the option exists, if a child only enjoys cookies, sweets and desserts that mum makes, it then becomes a treat and not preferred every day. Why not try making some of these tasty treats on my recipe page
3: Unfamiliarity of food: My child won’t try new foods. Picture a child who moves from a bottle of milk to pureed food and then because he starts to exercise his independence (usually happens at around 12 months of age) and opts for sweet or processed foods in packages, or perhaps is given cheerio’s for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner. What do you think that child knows about food? How it comes to exist? The imperfections that comes with real food? The sweet tastes of natures fruits, the vibrant colours and inconsistent sizes. When feeding your child the best thing you can do is put fresh eyes on and wonder how they will get to know real food unless you bring them closer to it. Get them to play with it, help out in the kitchen, and make a mess with their hands at mealtimes! Kids are going to be scared of the unfamiliar. Goes without saying also that they need to see you eating real food too. Read this blog on how to makemealtimes fun.
4: Force feeding: My child won’t eat unless its forced or he’s distracted. There are so many different levels of this. Feeding a child against their will is a dangerous road to travel and can lead to many serious sensory issues. I get it! There’s is an insurmountable pressure in today’s society to make sure your child eats healthy, but sometimes it comes at the expense of having our child enjoy food and mealtimes. Always provide and let a child decide. You aren’t in control of their intake only what you serve up and the surroundings in which you serve it. Read this blog to help you decide if you are a control freak at mealtimes.
5: Too much of one food group: My child will only drink milk and refuses all food!A common one is usually milk, if you take your child to the doctor and complain of him not eating correctly the first thing he’s going to say is ‘so long as he’s drinking milk’. Doctors didn’t have nutrition training at medical school, they also don’t know what vitamins and minerals make a body work at optimum level. Milk has calcium and that’s where it stops, the protein is an incomplete source and from the age of 1 we slow down making the enzymes that breaks it down. It’s not a life source unless it’s coming from the mother’s breast. Plus, and yes i’m brave enough to say it, baby formula is the first experience a child gets to experience artificially sweetened foods, the addiction starts here I’m afraid. Ever wonder why baby formula packaging doesn’t include a nutrition chart that lists the sugars?
Little Fusspot intensive programs will now be available online as from the 1st of August. Click here to get a sneak peak into the comprehensive course. If you then click on the enrol button you’ll be asked to fill in your details and later given a discount code for use during the month of August.