Of course the reasons why children may reject foods can be many and varied and will differ with each child. Try to understand the possible reasons for your child’s fussiness. Is it due to innate issues, due to particular habits being created around food initially or is there some other underlying condition?
Consider this. Is it a sore throat, a cold, teething, gastric reflux, constipation, already full from snacking, over tired or upset, is there a specific nutrient deficiency that will affect eating behaviour and choices or are family mealtimes excessively stressful? All these and more have the potential to cause picky eating.
Research at Brown University in the US showed that damage to the taste system from ear infections and tonsillectomies alters taste perception and does have an effect on food preferences. Certainly in my naturopathic practice, the majority of children I see with picky or poor eating behaviour are found to have an underlying health issue of some type. This might be a subclinical chronic respiratory infection, allergy or intolerance or nutrient deficiencies that can be both the cause and effect of less than ideal health and picky eating behaviours.
A deficiency of the minerals zinc and iron are commonly behind these types of problems. Zinc specifically will influence both smell and taste. If you can’t smell or taste food it is then very difficult to have any enjoyment or interest in food.
Remember too that little ones are not just little adults but have a different approach to eating and different appetites. They are also likely to dawdle over meals or may be too busy and excited about what they are doing to settle to food so quickly lose interest or become distracted very easily.
Physiologically a child’s gut, brain and immune system are not yet fully developed. Each of these systems and the interrelationship between them is especially vulnerable to imbalances. Their gut lining is still rather “leaky” and liver detoxification ability is not mature so children are not capable of handling toxins from foods or their environment effectively. This can have a significant impact on their overall health as well as mood and eating behaviour.