Why is my child a fussy eater? 7 reasons your child may be a food refuser

Anna, our registered Nutritional Therapist, looks at some reasons for fussy eating in children. Anna works with children and women in Bristol or via Skype. 

There may be aspects of your child’s diet which can influence their attitude to food, or there might be things to consider about your expectations and attitudes. Here are some potential reasons for you to consider why they may be a fussy eater. If you’d like a 1:1 consultation for your diet or for your child please let us know and set up a free 15 minute appointment

  1. Nutrient deficiency – zinc

When our bodies are low in zinc, it affects the appetite and taste buds. Imagine if food tastes very bland to a child a meal time isn’t very appealing. Your child may have lost their appetite if they aren’t getting enough zinc in the diet.

How you can help:

Including zinc rich foods in the diet can help to address this, or if very low taking a supplement may help. (Do not take zinc for long periods of time as it can interfere with other minerals). Zinc rich foods are in seafood, red meat, green leafy veg, mushrooms, nuts, seeds, brown rice, lentils, pulses, wholegrains, eggs).

  1. Nutrient deficiency – iron

A lack of iron in the diet can lead to fatigue and low appetite. It can also lead to feelings of nausea which could put your child off their food.

How you can help:

Iron can be found in red meat, fish, green leafy vegetables, egg yolk, pulses (e.g. lentils, chickpeas, beans), wholemeal bread, sweet potato and dried fruits. If your child doesn’t eat any of these foods consider a supplement

  1. Unbalanced gut microflora – gut disbiosis

We need the bugs in our gut to help us digest food, so if the balance gets upset you may find that bowel function is altered or appetite changes. Taking antibiotics can wipe out large numbers of good bacteria, so can times of stress for your child (e.g. starting a new nursery, change in routine, or starting school) as well as eating a diet high in processed foods.

How you can help:

Consider a probiotic supplement. Food based probiotics are sauerkraut, kefir (fermented milk, or water) but as these are all ‘an acquired taste’ your child with a limited palate may not accept these new foods! Probiotics can be added to cold food or drink and are pretty tasteless.

  1. Food intolerance

If your child refuses to eat certain foods it’s possible their body is telling them it doesn’t feel right when they eat this type of meal.

How you can help:

Complete a diet diary to look at what your child eats over a week, and track any other symptoms they have. Consider seeing a nutritional therapist to review your child’s diet and manage any food sensitives. Do not cut out food groups without considering how to replace the nutrients from other sources.

  1. Constipation

If your child is very full they will not feel like adding to their blocked up intestines. We should all pass a bowel movement at least once a day, ideally 2-3 times. They may need more fibre if they struggle on the toilet regularly. Consider a probiotic as well to correct the balance of bacteria.

How you can help:

Ensure your child is eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. If they won’t eat these think about ways to sneakily increase the fibre (vegetables in cakes, smoothies, soups, hidden veg pasta souce) Look at the ERIC website for more information about constipation.  Consider a probiotic as well to correct the balance of bacteria.

  1. Control

Children need to feel some control over their lives, and this need starts to grow and expand as they do. They need some control over what they wear, their activities and their food. Sometimes our little ones have very limited control over their environment, routine or even play, so the one thing they can do is refuse food to show some control over their own body.

How you can help:

Allow your child some choice within healthy limits. Provide a choice of food at each mealtime, perhaps with one thing you know they like and some other new items. If you can, get them to join in food preparation so they can help choose veg at the supermarket. Depending on their age perhaps they can help you chop soft veg as you cook. Ask them whether they want carrots or broccoli for dinner tonight, would they prefer a banana or orange for pudding?

  1. Wanting to be grown up

Children may want to show how they are separate from you as their care givers as they get older. They may decide they no longer eat meat, or they don’t like a routine family favourite pudding. This is a normal part of growing up to help them separate from you and allows their growing independence.

How you can help:

Try not to take it personally if your child no longer shares the same food attitudes as you, and see this stage as a normal part of their development.

If you’d like a 1:1 consultation for your diet or for your child please let us know and set up a free 15 minute appointment

Baby Circle

Baby brain

‘Baby brain’ is what we say mothers get when they are tired, forgetful can’t cope with the fast pace of society. It’s seen as a negative thing, perhaps because we live in a society where the values of science, maths and logic are valued above everything else. We can choose to see this period of our lives where we are experiencing such a huge change in a positive way too, you are gaining so many new aspects to your personal development.

What is baby brain?

The oxytocin released when you have a child changes the structure and chemistry of your brain. You are physically different. Whilst many of the physical changes can be seen, there are also these chemical changes in the brain.

Through this surge in oxytocin mothers in their postpartum period have heightened senses. They are better at reading non-verbal signs and show better empathy – all very important for new mums to help connect with and protect their newborn.

Blame it on the baby brain

Don’t allow the cultural messages telling you ‘baby brain’ is a bad thing make you feel you’ve lost something, you have gained a great deal too!

Lots of mothers find after having a baby they have changed priorities; things that were important before no longer seem so essential. This can be very disorientating, and some mums feel a bit lost, and they don’t know who they are anymore. Your brain is actually different which can be disorientating. This is on top of having to learn new skills to care for your baby.

Developing as a mother

As a mother, you have to embrace a whole new set of strengths, and perhaps let go of some aspects of yourself that you have always valued. It doesn’t mean you can’t go back to that high powered job, or enjoy scientific work, but just accepting some new strengths into yourself, and valuing this time in your life.

How to support yourself as a mother

With all this going on you need to find a way to look after yourself so you can look after your baby.

When you have a time of depletion and feel you need some nurturing, a simple checklist can become your reminder, whether it’s a cuppa with a friend, a massage or reading a book. Take minute now to write down some nurturing things, places, or people that help you.  It’s important to keep yourself filled up. Have a think about what really makes you tick, what you could not do without, what builds you up and helps you feel whole again. 

If you’d like a holistic treatment to support yourself contact us for an appointment with Lindsay or Jane. email info@the-gentle-touch.com or via the contact page

 

Is your child too clean? The role of bacteria in children’s gut health

Tips on how to influence and support your children’s gut health by our registered nutritional therapist Anna. Anna works with families including children to identify the optimal diet for individual health. 

Are you always using antibacterial handwash, sanitising your children’s hands at the park or bleaching away the bacteria in your kitchen? You might be thinking it’s the only way to fight off infections and keep your children safe.

Hygiene hypothesis

However, more studies are now linking the way we clean ourselves (sometimes a little obsessively) and the rise in childhood conditions such as asthma, eczema, food allergies and hay fever. The ‘hygiene hypothesis’ means our children are growing up in an overly sanitised world today and they are too clean. Without small challenges to the immune system during early childhood, the immune system doesn’t learn to respond to antigens. This means it may go into overdrive when it meets gluten, peanuts or pollen.

The best way to help your child’s immune system is to let them get a bit more dirty. This means playing in the dirt, cuddling the dog, exploring the garden. It will help if you allow these small challenges to the immune system to be part of their life.

When we use antibacterial handwash or bleach our kitchen surfaces we kill off ALL the bacteria, good and bad. 95% of the world’s bacteria are not harmful to us. Removing all the bugs leaves room for the most pathogenic (bad) bugs to quickly take hold. We only need to reduce bacteria in our cleaning, not remove it all completely. Washing up with hot soapy water is sufficient. 

When you definitely DO need the anti-bacterial support

If you’re dealing with a sickness bug, or poo (child’s or animals) then it is definitely worth ensuring your hands are super clean.  Hand sanitiser, hot washing cycle in the machine and anti-bacterial spray are all useful in this instance.

Diversity in gut bacteria is important

The diversity of bugs in our gut is what keeps us healthy. We need lots of different types of bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites to keep us healthy and our immune system strong. Diversity of microbes comes from eating a varied diet, rich in fibre, lots of vegetables and plenty of time in nature playing freely.

How to get help for your family

If you or your children have allergies, asthma or eczema do get in touch to see how Anna could support your family through nutritional therapy. Addressing the diet and any underlying gut issues can have huge impact on these common conditions. Anna offers a free 15 minute consultation – email to book a slot to speak to her – info@the-gentle-touch.com 

Fevers: How to manage a child’s high temperature

With cold and flu season here, the next time you or your children are poorly, you may be reaching for the paracetamol to reduce their fever. It’s natural to worry about your child’s high temperature and want to reduce their symptoms.

But research shows that we actually need to thank our fever for helping fight off infection. That’s because some studies have shown elevated body temperature helps certain types of white blood cells, lymphocytes, to work better. This supports our immune system to fight off the bugs that make us ill.

What causes a high temperature

Fevers are normally caused by a mild viral infection. Of course sometimes a fever reflects a dangerous infection that needs medical assessment from a health professional, but if the raise in temperature is minor you can support your child’s immune system with rest and plenty of hydration. Offer lots of breastmilk if they are breastfed.

Fevers actually help protect us.

One study showed that children who had a fever of 38.3°C before they were 12 months old were less likely to demonstrate have allergies at age 6 to 7 years. In the acute phase of an infection raising the body temperature stops the bad bugs from multiplying which may reduce the length and severity of common colds and flu.

How to help a baby with a high temperature

If you decide not to treat a fever in your little one, then do keep track of the temperature through their illness. Take their temperature regularly and record it. You can help them feel better with a plenty of cool drinks and lots of cuddles and not keeping them too hot.

When to look for help (NHS advice):

  • Check your child for signs of dehydration – these can include a dry mouth, no tears, sunken eyes and, in babies, fewer wet nappies
  • your baby is under three months old and they have a temperature of 38C (101F) or higher
  • your baby is three to six months old and has a temperature of 39C (102F) or higher
  • your child develops a red rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it
  • your child has a fit (convulsion)
  • they are crying constantly and you can’t console or distract them, or the cry doesn’t sound like their normal cry
  • has a high-pitched or unusual sound when crying
  • the fever lasts for more than five days
  • your child’s health is getting worse
  • you have any concerns about looking after your child at home

Stay well this winter!

 

blueberries

Help! My 12 Month Old Won’t Eat – 10 Tips For Feeding a One Year Old

In a recent 1:1 weaning session yesterday I met a one year old who had become very fussy about eating suddenly, and seemed to reject a lot of foods that were accepted before. Sound familiar to any of you?? We often hear parents saying ‘My 12 month old won’t eat, and they were brilliant before!’

We looked at everything the child had eaten over a week, and I took a brief health history too to review all his body systems (e.g. sleep patterns, digestive health, mood, skin health etc) Here are some of the things I talk about with the parents. 

  1. Look at your child’s nutrition over a week, not a day. Try not to worry if they go through phases of not eating much. We all accept times when baby’s have a growth spurt, but we’re often less happy to accept times when their appetite reduces.
  2. Know that babies rate of growth slows down between 1-2 so they may need less energy than before.
  3. Neophobia ‘fear of new things’ is common between 12-24 months and is a totally normal phase of development. Babies become distrustful of new things for a period of time.
  4. If babies begin to feed themselves at this age they may also eat less, and take longer for meals until they get the co-ordination right. Consider whether you allow enough time for meals to let them feed themselves or is there a rush to finish due to the family schedule? Also aim to end a meal within 20 minutes if they are finished so he / she doesn’t get bored.
  5. Provide a sample of different foods at each meal, some new, some well accepted foods
  6. Give small amounts at a time if food is thrown on the floor. Allow them to trial their new skills of pincer grip and give them blueberries, peas, chickpeas to pick up one by one. 
  7. Think about what else is going on for them at this time (e.g. have their passed a new developmental milestone such as learning to walk, talk) or has their routine changed suddenly?
  8. Try food in different forms if texture is an issue. E.g. beans on their own, raw mushrooms/ courgette, or roasting instead of boiling veg. 
  9. Keep on offering a range of healthy foods and if they don’t eat what you give at one meal don’t make a fuss, clear the food away and wait until the next mealtime. Don’t offer an alternative snack to fill them up, just accept they may not be hungry
  10. As always trust your instincts and if something feels wrong over an extended period of time consult your GP. Look for wet/dirty nappies, changes in mood, fever etc as normal.

If you’d like some individual support with feeding your family please get in touch. Anna comes to your home to talk through all your feeding issues and your baby can be there too, but it’s not essential. Book on info@the-gentle-touch.com or call 07812010412

Fertility – Sleep may affect sperm quality

Are you trying to conceive? So much attention is focused on a woman’s fertility because our reproductive systems and hormones are more varied and complicated. You might be exercising, eating well, perhaps taking some herbs or acupuncture. You may have also thought about your partner’s sperm quality and it can be improved.  

But have you made sure your partner is getting enough sleep? 

Some new research has just come out linking the length of a man’s sleep to the quality of  his sperm. 

A research project in China has shown that sleeping for less or more than seven hours a night could reduce men’s sperm quality.  

Researchers found that sperm from men who slept for more than nine hours or less than six and a half hours a night had lower volume of and lower total sperm count

Scientists noted that the sperm quality was at its best when men snoozed for seven to seven and a half hours a day.

Fertility Nutrition

Anna, our Nutritional Therapist, can work with you on your diet if you are trying for a baby to get you in the best shape for pregnancy. Sometimes simple dietary changes can improve your hormones, immune system and feelings of wellbeing. 

The best results come from both partners looking at their diet and getting into top pre-conception form, and we can run double appointments if you’d like to come along together.  Contact Anna for a free 15 minute appointment to discuss what you are looking for. Even if you don’t book she may be able to provide some ideas for you to investigate and try at home. 

Anna – 07812010412 or email on info@the-gentle-touch.com 

 

Pregnancy Nutrition

Pregnancy Diabetes – what is it and what to eat?

What is Gestational / Pregnancy Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes means you’ll have too much glucose in your blood. This happens because an increase in pregnancy hormones means you’re less sensitive to insulin, which helps glucose get into the cells where it can be used.

What are the issues with having diabetes in pregnancy?

Complications associated with gestational diabetes are an increased risk of a large birth weight babies, which increase the risk of complicated delivery and caesarean section. There is also links between gestational diabetes and your baby being overweight or developing Type 2 Diabetes in later life.

It’s possible you won’t know you’ve got diabetes when pregnant until your midwife tests your urine. The signs include passing urine more often, increased thirst, and extreme tiredness – but these are common pregnant complaints anyway!

How to manage gestational diabetes

When you’re diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you should be given equipment so that you can regularly test your blood glucose levels at home.

You can significantly reduce your risk of developing gestational diabetes by managing your weight before and during pregnancy, eating healthily and keeping active.

Here are our food tips for managing your diet when pregnant:

  1. Careful with the carbs

Choose complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, e.g. rye, and get your carbohydrates through starchy vegetables (sweet potato, parsnips). Avoid sugary cakes, breakfast cereals, white pasta & bread. Eat nutritious grains such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat and millet. Avoid ready meals which are full of sugar and salt. Bulk up your meals with protein and lots of vegetables. 

  1. Focus on nutrient value of food

Carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index (GI) foods help to control blood glucose levels – such as whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, granary bread, all-bran cereals, pulses, beans, lentils, muesli and porridge. Ensure you’re getting lots of healthy plant based fats like avocado, nuts and seeds, as well as oily fish to help boost your body and feed your baby. 

  1. Avoid sugary foods

Aim to reduce the amount of added sugar in your diet. You can do this by:

  • Better snacks – swapping cakes and biscuits for fruit with seeds, rice cakes or oatcakes with marmite / nut butters
  • Make some energy balls with nuts and seeds and dried fruits instead of chocolates and cakes.
  • Add ground seeds and nuts to your porridge for extra protein.
  • Swap juice and squash for water flavoured with fresh lemon, mint or cucumber.
  1. Eat small meals often

Avoiding long gaps in between meals and focus on three main meals a day. This will help you control your appetite and blood glucose levels. Ensure you are including lots of protein (fish, eggs, meat, beans etc) at each meal to keep you fuller for longer. 

  1. Exercise

Physical activity that raises your heart rate also lowers your blood glucose level, so regular exercise such as swimming, brisk walking or yoga can be an effective way to manage gestational diabetes. Aim for 150 minutes a week in 30 minute sessions.

  1. Get your 7 a day (5 vegetables and 2 fruit)

Use veg to bulk up your meals and snack on vegetable sticks instead of sweets, crisps and biscuits. Fibre in the vegetables will help you manage your insulin release. Don’t drink fruit juices and smoothies which are high in natural sugars. Eat no more than 2 pieces of fruit a day and eat with some protein to slow the absorption of sugars.

  1. Support your gut microbiome

Several recent studies have found taking a probiotic during pregnancy can reduce the risk and severity of complications associated with pregnancy diabetes. Consider taking a probiotic or eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi or kefir to support your gut bacteria.

If you’ve found these tips useful why not come along to our pregnancy nutrition seminar on 18th November where we’ll cover all sorts of pregnancy ailments. We also look at the key nutrients you need in pregnancy, and what to eat to meet these targets. https://the-gentle-touch.com/booking/pregnancy-nutrition-workshop/

 

 

Baby Sleeping in mothers arms

Did you know cuddling your baby can help you with stress reduction?

We hear a lot about the importance of skin to skin around the time of birth, and this is because the cuddling helps to release oxytocin for baby and mum.

Skin to skin – Benefit to baby

There are numerous benefits for the baby, and evidence has been shown from cases in NICU where babies show better temperature regulation, better breathing patterns, less stress, more effective glucose regulation and many more. 

Skin to skin – Benefits for Mum

It’s not just all for the baby though, there are also benefits for you as a mum post birth. When you cuddle your baby skin to skin your brain releases beta-endorphin. Beta-endorphin is a pain reducing hormone that helps you respond to your baby. This hormone also reinforces the pleasure in the cuddles, and increases feelings of calmness. It can also reduce stress levels in mums 

If you need any more excuses for another cuddle with your newborn there they are. Some studies have shown even smelling that gorgeous newborn smell is enough to evoke positive feelings. We all love that baby smell, and it’s been shown even a whiff of your little baby can send out reward message from the part of the brain responsible for pleasure. 

So next time you feel awash with love when you’re cuddling you know you’re not imagining it, your body is tuned in to your baby on a chemical level.

Baby Massage

If you’d like to spend more time with your baby learning how to soothe and comfort them try our Baby Massage classes. The release of oxytocin during the skin to skin strokes can help both you and your baby relax. Look at our Booking page for details of classes near you, or we can arrange a private class. Our classes are a great way to meet new people in your area too, it’s friendly and welcoming. Many parents enjoy sharing tips and stories on parenting to help get to know each other. 

pregnancy heartburn

Pregnancy Heartburn

How your body changes during pregnancy

Pregnancy Heartburn or Reflux can be very painful. You don’t have to ignore this and carry on, there are some small changes you can make to reduce the impact of the changes during pregnancy. 

As your pregnancy progresses the stomach is displaced upwards and rising progesterone levels relax the oesophageal sphincter so food and acid is more likely to come through. Also relaxin slows your digestion which means food stays in the stomach for longer.

How to help pregnancy heartburn through your diet

  • Eat less, more often – smaller meals will be easier for your body to digest rather than 3 big meals a day.
  • Avoid foods which make heartburn worse – such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, greasy or fried foods, spicy foods, chocolate, coffee and fizzy drinks and alcohol (some of these you should eliminate anyway!).
  • Liquidise – smoothies, soups and slow cooked stews are easier to digest. Keep up your vegetable intake through a daily smoothie mid-morning, or soup for lunch.
  • Avoid eating before bed or lying down so food doesn’t come up.
  • Peppermint tea also opens the oesophogael sphincter so avoid directly before bed.

Have you got your free Pregnancy Superfoods eBook yet? Download this from our website today. 

Pregnancy Nutrition Workshop

Join us on the 18th Nov to meet other expectant mums and learn what makes a healthy pregnancy diet. Find out how to support your body and your growing baby through food during pregnancy. Book online or contact us with any questions. 

Saturday 18th November, 10.00-12.00. 

The Elephant House, 1 Dean St, Southville, BS3 1BG

The workshop will be jammed with information about how you can easily eat healthily during pregnancy, and you can ask any questions to our registered nutritional therapist, Anna (BANT, CNHC). It’s fun, and there is no judgement about your diet, it’s supportive and gives you the tools to make healthy diet choices during pregnancy.  

Hope to see you there! 

 

BLW – Dealing with food waste

How do you deal with food waste in Baby Led Weaning (BLW)?

Baby Led Weaning can lead to some wasted food as your baby explores the motions of eating. For some babies picking up food, putting in their mouth can be rather messy with lots ending up on the floor. How should you deal with this food waste? 
 
If you’re giving your baby finger foods and a lot ends up on the floor how do you feel about it?
 
Some babies throw everything on the floor, it’s a kind of game to them, to see what happens when food gets dropped off the side of the highchair. They can see it as a kind of game and relish the reaction you give, so think about how you react when it happens. 
 
Some things you can consider are:
 
  • Limiting portion sizes so you only give a small amount at a time. When that’s eaten give a bit more.
  • If your baby throws the bowl off the highchair you can get bowls and plates with suction pads on to fix them to the tray.
  • Try a clean plastic floor covering (like a table cloth) under the high chair so food can be picked up and put back on the tray.
  • Remember it’s only a short while and whilst no-one wants to waste food it won’t be forever that your baby is exploring food in this way.
  • Limit meal times to 20 mins max – babies can get bored if left in their chair too long.
How do you deal with any food that gets dropped / thrown? Send us your tips or join our Facebook group (Baby Nutrition & Weaning) where we discuss tips for starting your baby on solid foods. 
 
If you’d like to learn more about Baby Nutrition and Weaning come to our next class or organise one for you and a group of friends at your home. Our bookings page has details of all our classes or email us to ask about organising a 1:1 session or private group class – info@the-gentle-touch.com