Fussy eating is among some of the common behaviours observed during early childhood. Children are all different and show different eating patterns. Therefore it is difficult to identify and define fussy or picky eating as such. Children may be very choosy when it comes to food, often leading to power battles and unpleasant meal times. Fussy eaters in children are usually said to have strong food preferences, they do not eat a wide variety of foods, they also restrict the intake of some food groups which leads to eating a limited amount of food, or they are just simply unwilling to try new foods.
Being a parent of a fussy eater is not easy. You are constantly worried about what to feed your child, worried about whether he will eat his food at the next mealtime, and most importantly whether he is getting the right nutrition required for his growth. When children are fussy eaters, they tend to choose the foods they like and eat them over a long period of time. You may think that at least your child is eating something rather than not eating anything during the day. It may seem to be fine however there are chances that your child may not get the appropriate nutrients that are essential for his/her growth and development. Let’s understand the impact of fussy eating on a child’s growth.
Does fussy eating effect your child’s growth?
Fussy eating does have certain implications on your child as he/she may seem to eat all their meals but may still get only limited nutrition due to their food choices. Following are some effects of fussy eating.
- Picky eating from a diet that is already unbalanced leads to hidden hunger or micronutrient deficiency, even in healthy looking children.
- Children with these deficiencies do not grow fully or develop mentally as per their potential. They have weakened immunity and are prone to infections.
- If the child ends up eating only energy-dense foods, like sweets, they are at the risk of becoming obese as they grow up.
What are the possible nutritional implications of fussy eating?
For children to grow and develop in a healthy manner it is important for them to consume a healthy and balanced diet. When children are very choosy with their food choices, it may be difficult to provide all the required nutrients which can put them at a potential risk of a nutrient deficiency. Some of the important nutrients that could be lacking in the diet of a pre-schooler and can be added to the diet are as follows:
- Zinc: helps in strengthening the immunity and is required for normal growth and development. Dairy products, nuts, seeds, meat and shellfish are some good sources of zinc that can be added to your child’s diet
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A boosts your immune system and helps maintain good eyesight. Carrots, pumpkin, green leafy vegetables are good sources of this vitamin.
- Iron: Deficiency of iron leads to anaemia, lowered immunity, fatigue resulting in retarded cognitive development and reduced ability in reaching developmental milestones. Dates, ragi, spinach, rice flakes are rich sources of iron.
- B complex vitamins: This vitamin plays a key role in maintaining normal neurological and skin health. Seafood, poultry, eggs, legumes and green leafy vegetables provide good quality B complex vitamins.
- Vitamin C: It helps in the absorption of iron and keeps your gums healthy. Citrus fruits like orange, lemon are good sources. Guava and broccoli are also rich in vitamin C
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is extremely essential for healthy bones and teeth. Lack of this vitamin leads to delayed growth and teething in your child. Since the sun is the primary source of this vitamin outdoor play is essential.
- Calcium: It strengthens teeth and bones, boosts nervous system and muscle action. Milk and other dairy products are rich sources of calcium.
All the above nutrients are important to obtain optimum growth and development for children.
Tips to manage fussy eating:
- Eat together as a family.
- Do not indulge in food fights, allow your child to listen to their body cues for hunger.
- Do not force your child to eat as they may end up disliking the food.
- Do not try to bribe your child to eat.
- Keep trying to introduce foods in different ways. Make meal times fun, provide children with variety and pair unfamiliar foods with familiar foods.
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To learn more about nutrition dense meal options to include in your child’s diet visit www.ceregrow.in