‘My child won’t eat his vegetables!’ is a common cry amongst parents. It can be very frustrating for a caregiver, who has lovingly prepared food to see it rejected and mealtimes can become very stressful if your child is a fussy eater.
Feeding your child helps you feel like a nurturing, caring parent and food and love become intrinsically linked. A rejection of food can feel like a rejection of your love and you may worry that your child won’t grow and develop properly, which puts further pressure on you to encourage him to eat.
The real issue may not be about food at all. It may be that your child wants his independence and food is the way he can maintain control over some part of his life. Help your child feel in control by allowing him to be involved in food preparation where safe and offer him a couple of healthy choices for dinner where possible.
In my work I look at what the body is telling us via a symptom, as I believe that symptoms are the body’s way of communicating what is out of balance in our lives. If your child is a fussy eater ask yourself the following questions:
Does your child see you trying new foods?
Do you diet?
Do you worry about your weight?
Do you see food as the enemy?
Could your child have picked up on your concerns about food?
If your child does not want to eat, he may not want to participate in the family group. Have the family dynamics changed recently?
Has a relationship broken down?
Flower essences can be purchased from a local health food store or pharmacy. There are two especially that are great for fussy eaters:
The Bach Flower Essence LARCH is for assuming that you won’t like something without even trying it. It helps to encourage openness and willingness to try.
The Australian Bush Flower Essence BAUHINIA is for reluctance and resistance to change. It helps to allow more acceptance of new things/foods
You can help your child’s appetite by making a few dietary changes:
Zinc-rich foods promote a healthy appetite. Zinc is mainly found in seafood like oysters, which is probably not going to be the choice for many children let alone fussy eaters! Talk to your local naturopath or chemist about a supplement. Zinc can be dangerous if taken in large doses so make sure the product is suitable for children.
Avoid having water/juice/milk with a meal. Serving drinks, even up to thirty minutes before a meal, can make your child’s stomach full so he has no appetite for dinner. Fluids also dilute digestive enzymes making it difficult to digest what is eaten
Trust your child’s body! Trust that your child knows when he is hungry and how much he needs to eat. Forcing your child to eat more than he needs may create problems with eating later on in his life. Ask yourself do you always eat when you are physically hungry and do you know when to stop eating? We often think we have to clear our plate but our body may need only half the portion! Trust your child’s natural instincts.
For more tips on how to help your children with a range of childhood issues please see my book Your Child’s Body Has The Answer.
Case study of a fussy eater: Melisa’s STORY
Melisa (aged 5) had always been a fussy eater. Her parents had assumed that she would grow out of it but it seemed to be getting worse. She would basically eat only chicken nuggets and plain cooked pasta, and drink milk. She would ‘freak out’ if offered fruit or vegetables and although bribes and punishments had been used throughout her toddler years to get her to eat, her parents had lost hope and were now just providing the foods she would eat without fuss.
Melisa’s body tested that she was lacking in zinc – and probably lots of other nutrients, but zinc was the element her body communicated was out of balance. This was confirmed as Melisa had lots of white spots on her nails which can indicate a zinc deficiency. As there was no way she would eat any foods rich in zinc I recommended that her mother talk to the pharmacist about trying a zinc supplement.
Her body then tested for Palmarosa essential oil. Each oil has an emotional property and the message of Palmarosa is ‘adaptability’. It helps us to embrace change, to constantly grow and adapt to life and to find life exciting. This sounded really relevant as when we began to explore Melisa’s personality it appeared that she didn’t like any change not just changes on her dinner plate. There had been considerable change during the time Melisa was in the womb as her parents had emigrated to Australia while her mum was pregnant. They had then moved house three times while they were settling into their new life. I believed it was possible that this unsettled period had caused Melisa to control her food as this was one area she felt she could.
I recommended Melisa inhale the smell of the Palmarosa oil and although she was reluctant to try, she decided she liked the smell! Holding points for her stomach tested as needed so I held her forehead which helps stimulate blood to the front of the brain where our forward planning centres are. This will encourage Melisa to plan her future responses differently rather than just say NO to new foods.
Her mum would hold her forehead points before a meal and use a diffuser of Palmarosa oil in the dining area. With these supports plus a good zinc supplement, Melisa is now more open to trying new foods.