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What can I do or do you recommend me seeing someone for her?

HI Leanne,
My daughter is now 3 years old and as a baby she ate everything and most the time she was over weight, at this present time in her life she is much slimmer which i understand is normal but is a very fussy eater to the point the only meat she has is in spghatti and you can`t mention chicken because she will refuse to eat it but the only time she will eat it without knowing is the Mc Donalds nuggets and in soup in which i have to mince it very finely, her milk and fruit intake is great but i am very concerned that she is not getting enough or the right nutrition. She has a very limited diet to what she eats and always has to smell the food and most teh time her answer is no to trying something new. What can i do or do you recommend me seeing someone for her???

Answer: Hi There, I have a 6-year-old who is a little the same, fantastic eater right up to toddlerhood but now he smells his food and gives it a little trial on his lips, happily he is showing some glimpses of coming through it all. Likely that such children have a strong association to things by smell and it can help to involve them in the cooking process, encouraging them to handle and smell the foods as you go along to break down the natural suspicion. You can talk about the meal and what the smell makes you feel like and resembles etc. It all helps to remove the suspicion. You will find though they out grow this in the latter primary school years. Also with meat it is often an issue of texture, which is why sausages and mince can get the thumbs up oh and those nuggets. Don`t forget chicken mince can help give some variety on the usual mince meals (spaghetti bolognaise, Sheppard’s Pie, homemade sausages and sausage rolls). You can also now get salt reduced, additive free ham in supermarkets (see note below on product). Try making your own chicken nuggets and add in some pureed vegies... Hans hams and roast chicken: At last!!! Lunch-meats with no artificial flavours, no artificial colours, gluten free, less salt, natural green tea extract as the antioxidant. And what’s even more important there are no nitrites on the ingredients panel. So all in all, its a matter of persevering, looking about of new options in foods, thinking outside the square for ways you can add in foods and staying sane. Below is my quick checklist:
  1. Persisting with offering the healthy stuff even if it is rejected
  2. Sneaking in the good stuff where you can which makes avoiding the battles (no-one wins those ones) easier
  3. Getting them involved
  4. Offering a healthy supper down the line if dinner is rejected and your toddler complains of being hungry
  5. Trying to use the foods they do eat as a basis for making other food/meals that are more likely to be enjoyed. For example cream cheese on a bagel, pasta with bacon and a cream cheese base, bread and butter pudding made with calcium enriched milk such as soy or rice, try sweet potato chips etc.
  6. Swap lunch and dinner if that helps and make meal portions achievable (small but healthy).
  7. Check milk or other fluids aren’t interfering with their appetite.
  8. Remember that food rejection is a normal behaviour for most toddlers and preschoolers.
  9. Repeat the mantra "this like all things in infancy and childhood, will pass" and it will!
I have a tip sheet on fussy eating on Huggies that might have some pointers, but again I really think it would be best to get some help with this, the link is: Picky Eating Also I think the Jessica Seinfeld book using purees is a good idea, but I reduce the sugar, use olive oil and don’t add salt, I also have a recipe book based on my fussy foodie. If you feel you really would like some help and also to check that he is getting all he needs, there are a few options you might like to consider. If you wanted to start out with the obvious you might like to see a naturopath, nutritionist or dietitian who specialises in children. They will be able to firstly review what your little one does eat and tell if there may be some nutritional issues to be addressed and if so, how they are best dealt with. Then advise you on the fussy eat and what tips and tricks might help. Another option is a feeding expert, the gals at No Fuss Feeding (website of the same name) are excellent with feeding issues, and it’s their specialty. Or in a similar vein an early childhood consultant who can help with behavioural tips. I would recommend the former if you are finding your preschooler isn’t maintaining her growth rates well. Aussie: www.nofussfeeding.com.au NZ: www.paediatricfeedingdisordersclinic.co.nz/index.htm So I hope that gives you some ideas, keep offering the good stuff. Think also laterally, don`t forget things like baby rice cereal added into meals it is a good source of iron, things like pulses are a good alternative to vegies and also foods like goji berries are packed full of nutrition. All the best, Leanne
Answered: 01 Jun 2009