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You’ve snuck pureed vegetables into your child’s porridge, made funny faces with the food served and even brought story-telling to greater heights with food as props! Nothing has worked.
“It is common for children to be fussy about their food and there may be several possible reasons for this,” says Ms Ong Jia Xin, Dietitian, Department of Nutrition & Dietetics, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth group.
Food neophobia, the fear of unknown or new foods, peaks between two to six years of age. Children are also more likely to prefer the sweet taste (of foods) and may find some vegetables unpalatable. As a result, they may refuse to or eat only a limited variety of fruit and vegetables. Worried and anxious parents may try different ways to get their child to eat them but this may exacerbate the problem as mealtimes become stressful and unhappy for the child… and the parents too.
Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and fibre. Kids should be encouraged to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables – there is a rainbow of colours to choose from – which provides a rich source of antioxidants, instead of sugary snacks and fast food, which are high in fat and sugar. The vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables provide the following benefits:
It’s important to note that a child’s food preferences may determine his future dietary habits. Fruit and vegetables of different colours contain differing amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Eating only fruits may mean that your child is missing out on nutrients found in vegetables. Thus, it is important to receive the benefits from a wide range of these essential nutrients by eating a variety of both fruits and vegetables. For example, compared to fruits, most vegetables are better sources of calcium, iron and folate. Moreover, some fruits are higher in calories compared to most vegetables. For an overweight child, excessive consumption of fruits may lead to further weight gain if fruits are replacing his intake of vegetables.
Similarly, eating just one vegetable means that your child is likely to be missing out on essential nutrients that are available in other vegetables of different colours. For example, carrots are high in vitamin A, while spinach is high in folate. Since eating habits and tastes are formed from an early age, it is important that parents provide a variety in their children’s diet from young so that they will be less likely to develop nutritional deficiencies in the long-term.
Related article: 5 Tips to Deal with Fussy Eaters
Get more health tips at HealthXchange.sg.
All HealthXchange articles are intended for general information only and provided on the understanding that no surgical and medical advice or recommendation is being rendered. Please do not disregard the professional advice of your physician.
Tags: Child Nutrition /Health Matters
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