Mirna Sabbagh - Adult and Child Nutritionist in Dubai discusses Picky Eating
Mirna is an adult and child nutritionist who sees children from birth until the elderly years. She has been supporting mothers on social media (170k+ followers) and through her courses and consultations for a decade. She also spreads awareness about nutrition and health with organizations such as The Executive Council and Google.
You can also e-mail Mirna for questions on firstname.lastname@example.org
Why is my child a picky eater?
50% of my patients are picky eaters. Also 80% of my conversations with mothers are about picky eating! It seems like picky eating is the new pandemic. Picky eating is an area a handful of experts in the region work on because the reasons behind picky eating are many and hard to figure out and it is different for each child. It could be medical, psychological, behavioral, parenting related, food related and so much more! Some days picky eating can be solved with one expert and sometimes it takes a handful of experts.
The best resource I have available to take meal times from stressful to fun is the PickyEating MasterClass.
I highly recommend you get it as part of the upgraded Feed with Confidence Course as it will guide you through child nutrition from A to Z in easy to follow videos.
Before we discuss reasons for picky eating, I would like you to know that many times parents "think" their child is underweight or not eating enough, when in fact, they are! You would be surprised how many times parents were shocked when I informed them their child is healthy and not underweight. Or when I told parents 1 cup of food is GREAT and your child shouldn't be eating 2 cups of food for example. So, before we go into this article, I would like you to first check if your child is actually underweight or not or overweight.
If your child is NOT underweight then it does not mean we do not have to improve their eating behaviors, however, it does mean we can worry less and focus on the topic positively. If your child is a picky eater but is overweight then also note this is very common and not difficult to solve. If your child is underweight, then it may be slightly more difficult to solve.
Let me give you an example of possible causes of picky eating:
1. Medical Conditions:
Medical conditions are a huge driver behind picky eating. Issues like vitamin deficiencies especially Vitamin B12 and Iron can cause low appetite. Food intolerances or celiac disease can also be gigantic drivers behind picky eating. Those issues must be excluded first. We may do an elimination diet or request blood tests from their doctor.
2. Sensory Processing Disorders OR Swallowing Difficulty:
Many times children do not eat because they have an issue with textures. This is very common. As a dietitian I can help you with exercises to improve your child's handling of textures and different foods. In some cases I have had children going from purely purees to all different textures. In other instances we had to work with a sensory processing expert to help.
In addition, some children may have real swallowing difficulty and need support from an SLP to help them with their swallowing issues.
3. Behavioral issues:
Many times children act out when it comes to food as a reaction to other things during the day. They may be demanding their parents attention, it may be their way for putting their foot down, or maybe they are developing their stubborn characteristics. It may even be a rebellion against the parents approach. I for one had to take ALOT of parenting courses and psychology courses to learn how to properly handle parenting my son. I help parents solve basic behavioral issues that are there that I have learned from other parents. Many times my help on it's own is enough during consultations. However, in some cases, we will need the support of a parenting expert or even a psychologist. If you would like a recommendation please e-mail me on email@example.com
4. Food related issues:
MANY food related issues can cause picky eating. The lack of schedule, too many calories throughout the day, lack of sleep, the type of food, the food approach. There are hundreds of reasons. All of which I can help you with upon understanding your case better.
⚠️⚠️⚠️ My son(or daughter) are driving me crazy over mealtimes! They just won’t eat! Or they only eat a few food items only!
Frustrated parents send me this message on a daily basis. I have helped hundreds of parents take their children from picky eaters to great eaters. The solution is NOT quick. However, stress free mealtimes are almost guaranteed if you pinpoint the reasons and address them. In my picky eating masterclass for parents I teach parents the following:
✅The 9 common mistakes parents make that make picky eater worse and their solutions
✅The 9 foundations of a non-picky eating home
✅My 5 step program to reverse picky eating including more than 20 tested and tried strategies
To get access to this course, check “Picky Eating Masterclass” it is an online training that you can watch anywhere in the world at your own time.
I discussed ways to prevent picky eating in the below interview with LBC.