Is Fussy Eating All In Your Child’s Gut?

Are you dealing with your child’s fussy eating tendencies? It can be frustrating as a parent, and you may even think that your child is being picky just to spite you! But there is evidence to suggest that the answer lies in the gut.

Gut health is an important piece of the health puzzle for children. It affects so many different areas and systems of the body. But if your child’s gut is not at its best, it may be affecting their taste preferences.

 

Want to address your child’s fussy eating by improving their gut health?

Learn how to do just that with our FREE Gut Health For Kids Ebook – download your copy here.

 

 

 

Watch the video below or keep reading to learn more about the link between fussy eating and gut health.

How Gut Health Can Make Your Child A Fussy Eater

As with any health concern, there are multiple factors involved in fussy eating. Sensory issues, low nutrient levels and even learned behaviours all play a role in fussy eating.

However, addressing gut health is paramount when it comes to your child learning to eat a wide variety of foods.

How does gut health lead to fussy eating? Here are a few potential mechanisms between the two.

Fussy eating and dysbiosis

Dysbiosis is an imbalance of microbes in the gut. It’s common in the modern world, thanks to our Western diet and lifestyle. Stress, excess sugar, low fibre, medication use and anti-bacterial product use are just a few contributors to dysbiosis.

With dysbiosis, there is not necessarily obvious gut symptoms to indicate it. Sometimes, there are just minute and mild symptoms that add up. This is why you will often need to work with a practitioner who can help to identify the issue.

Dysbiosis can cause more cravings for sugary and starchy foods. Certain bad microbes can make us crave these foods. Research has found that they do this so that they can thrive and grow, but also to impair the growth of good bacteria.

Kids with dysbiosis will have cravings for bland, processed starchy and sweet foods. Healthy foods are less attractive because their microbes are manipulating their response. So your child isn’t being fussy just to be a pain – they may be unable to help these physical cravings.

The good news is that by working on balancing the gut bacteria, you’re supporting healthier eating tendencies.

Fussy eating and constipation

Kids with constipation often tend towards fussy eating. It’s not 100% clear what comes first. It could be that picky eaters are more prone to constipation, or that constipation leads to picky eating. But when you address the constipation, the fussy eating tendencies will often improve.

Fussy eaters will usually steer clear of high fibre-foods such as wholegrains and vegetables. These high-fibre foods contain prebiotic fibres that feed good bacteria in the gut. When these healthy bugs aren’t fed, they can’t thrive. So lack of fibre can not only cause constipation, but also contribute to dysbiosis.

It can be frustrating for parents to get prebiotics into their fussy eaters. However, there are ways to include them via supplements and foods.

Fussy eating and microbiomes

Food preferences may actually be ‘contagious’. The gut microbiome and oral microbiome have been found to be similar in families that live together. Families will often have a similar diet and environment, but it may go deeper than that.

We often see families where Dad doesn’t eat his vegetables, so the kids won’t either. Kids do learn from what we do, so we want to make sure we set a good example for enjoying a variety of foods.

But this may not just be a learned behaviour. It could be that the kids may have a similar microbiome make-up to Dad. This composition of gut bacteria affects food preferences, so they tend towards eating less nutritious foods. Focusing on gut health in the family may change our own food preferences as well as those of our kids!

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride talks about the mouth having a microbiome of its own. If there is an imbalance in the oral microbiome, the bacteria release toxins that are stored in mucus membranes. These toxins affect taste receptors and salivary glands, as well as inflaming the mouth. This can lead to kids preferring sweet, bland, starchy and easy to eat foods.

More research is needed to further explore these links, but it is clear that gut health and the microbiome affect food preferences. That means that you have the power to change these by working on gut health. This can be as simple as making small dietary and lifestyle changes to encourage a healthy balance of bacteria.

 

 

Want to address your child’s fussy eating by improving their gut health?

Learn how to do just that with our FREE Gut Health For Kids Ebook – download your copy here.