A child’s growth is closely related to their appetite. While an occasional loss of appetite is normal, consistently poor appetites may eventually affect their health, growth, and development.
The common signs of a poor appetite are:
- Fatigue during mealtime
- Playing with food
- Distracted during mealtime
- Picky or fussy eating
Picky or fussy eaters are known to suffer from lower levels of Vitamin E, Vitamin C, folate, and fiber due to their lower consumption of fruits and vegetables. Lower levels of these specific nutrients may lead to cell damage, immunological weakness, and digestive problems. Digestive problems, in particular, constipation, may increase picky/fussy eating as children tend to associate the eating experience with the abdominal discomfort.
Inculcating healthy eating habits is the best way to overcome picky eating. It has been observed that children’s early food preferences remain stable through their lives. Research has also shown that children’s food preferences are closely related to their mother's. To train children to have healthy eating habits, a schedule and meal plan is of great importance. Parents of fussy eaters are easily discouraged from trying new foods because of mealtime tantrums. Research has also shown that multiple exposures (between 5 to 10) to new foods helps a child learn to like them.