Shopping Cart

No products in the cart.

FUSSY EATERS: How to improve your child’s gut health and nutrition

Several factors can drive fussy eating, and you may not even realise that it can be helped if you improve your child’s gut health. Sometimes we don’t realise the pressure on our little ones. Or maybe we’ve fallen into a routine that our child follows, which can lead to fussiness.

Ruth Fellowes is one of our wellness experts. She is a clinical nutritionist and educator. You can hear more about this topic in her podcasts on the Healthy Mummy Wellness App.

fussy eaters improve your child's gut health

She says there might also be an internal reason your child is ‘stuck’ on certain foods or has no interest in new food.

“What’s happening in their gut could be a side affected contributing to them not wanting to eat a certain food,” she says.

“They could also be lacking in certain nutrients, which could impact their eating.”

Nutrient deficiencies that can lead to fussy eaters

fussy eaters improve your child's gut health

Ruth says three significant nutrient deficiencies could potentially have started fussiness in the first place. Being deficient in these nutrients could also impact your child’s gut, so you should improve your child’s gut health.

Plus, the stress and habitual eating, a.k.a. eating the same foods repeatedly, will build on that, and fussy eating will develop.

“Focus on your child and address the internal workings,” she says.

“Start by looking at the three core nutrient deficiencies and see if you can find any clues as to what they might be lacking.”

1. Zinc

fussy eaters improve your child's gut health

Zinc is the number one deficiency in children. It affects the way a child develops a sense of taste and smell. You should check their zinc intake to improve your child’s gut health and manage fussy eaters.

“You can see this quite early. Having an aversion to certain tastes or textures and smells of the food,” says Ruth.

“Children with this tend to avoid slimy and sloppy food, for example, mash potatoes.”

“Maybe they only like very crunchy or big flavoured food, like chilli potato chips. They may gag on vegetables or won’t eat any fruit.” “These kids tend to live on carbs – like bread and crackers. Kids like the routine of predictability, and it’s hard for them if something feels unpredictable if you try them with new foods.” 

“Zinc deficient kids might have clothing issues, like wanting the tag to be ripped off. This is a red flag for being zinc deficient,” says Ruth. 

“When you restore their zinc levels, these things naturally drop off. It’s not a magic pill, though.”

2. Iron

fussy eaters improve your child's gut health

You need iron for growth and appetite. Without enough, kids gravitate toward quick fixes to give us energy. They might want carbs, processed carbs, or things like sugar, which translates to energy. When the energy from these things runs out, they come back for me. You should check their iron intake to improve your child’s gut health and manage fussy eaters.

“These children are frequent grazers – this is a warning sign for iron deficiency,” says Ruth.

“Rather than learning that protein and fats give you the energy that last longer, they prefer processed carbs and sugar.”

“Babies can be born iron deficient. But as weaning happens, that’s when iron-rich foods come in. You need to keep those levels topped up.” 

“Kids growing all the time, requiring iron to make red blood cells. Iron levels can decline quite quickly as they grow. That’s when you can see fussiness develop more and more.”

3. Calcium

Calcium is essential for bone health, as children are growing all the time. It’s also needed for appetite. You should check their calcium intake to improve your child’s gut health and manage fussy eaters.

“When your child has enough calcium, they’re able to cope with the daily stresses of life and be relaxed. Calcium helps reduce stress, and kids can digest foods better and get nourishment if there isn’t a deficiency.”

READ: Common nutrient deficiencies that affect behaviour

How do you boost these common deficiencies and improve your child’s gut health?

fussy eaters improve your child's gut health

Focus on how to improve your child’s gut, says Ruth. If your child looks bloated and their tummy looks tight rather than bloated, it could mean they don’t have good gut health, leading to becoming fussy eaters.

“What are the stools doing? They should be sausage shape and not stink,” says Ruth. “Are they constipated?”

“If they will have veggies and fruit, add it to smoothies. Up their water intake and try your best to give them a varied diet.”

“You could also try supplementation. Probiotics are very good for the gut. The bloating can then go down quite a lot.”

“I do recommend probiotic powders, as they are easiest to hide and mix into food.”

If unsure, seek professional help to get the dosage right. This will help improve your child’s gut health and prevent them from becoming fussy eaters.

How food affects a child’s behaviour and mood

Why mums need to be food label detectives

Get Access to the full Podcast in the Healthy Mummy Wellness App

The Healthy Mummy Wellness app is built to support mums’ mental, physical and social well-being.

We have expert advice to help mums makeover their minds, transform their mood, manage their hormones, sleep better and engage with their family.

You can listen to podcasts, read blogs, work out with our trainers and find healthy, family-friendly recipes from the palm of your hand.

Get the Healthy Mummy Wellness App here.

Share this article