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Friday, 2 November 2012

Some advice for parents with picky eaters

Parental control at meals key

There are a lot of frustrated mothers pulling their hair out around dinner tables up and down the nation according to a new fussy eating kids survey.

The Anchor CalciYum Food Solutions research says 85 per cent of mums experience "fussy eating" behaviour and for three-quarters of them these daily food battles cause moderate to high levels of anxiety.

the survey polled 1000 mothers with children aged 3 to 11. Anxiety was attributed to a motherly desire to see their children receive sufficient nutrition.

Fiona Boyle, a Tauranga-based dietitian and nutritionist, agreed.

"Overall, it shows there are concerns that they feel their children are not eating a good enough variety of foods," Ms Boyle said.

Fussy eating profiles uncovered by the research included: Children not eating vegetables (58 per cent) and being picky about texture (49 per cent); to those who would only eat certain coloured foods (8 per cent) and some who displayed a strong preference for takeaway food (6 per cent).

Ms Boyle, founder of Food Solutions, said catching the problem early was important.

"Some parents come to me after four or five years and it is much harder to deal with once it's been established for that long," she said.

Children had differing rates of growth and appetite. The amount a child ate would often diminish in line with a growth spurt.

"That's not always expected by the parent, so they get worried," said Ms Boyle.

Strategies for combating fussy eating centred on being in control at meal times.

"If the child doesn't eat the meal offered don't turn around and give them their favourite vegemite sandwich. They will just learn that they can hang out and wait until mum gives in and gives me something else," Ms Boyle said.

"The parent's role is to choose what's on offer and it's up to the child whether they're going to eat it. What you don't want to see is an early establishment of 'Oh well Jimmy won't eat this so I won't bother putting it on his plate'. You have to keep on offering.