Twins Sienna and Scarlett Parker, 4, have been lucky not to fall into the fussy eating trap, says proud mum Liz. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Twins Sienna and Scarlett Parker, 4, have been lucky not to fall into the fussy eating trap, says proud mum Liz. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Fussy eater? That might not be their only issue

CHILDREN who are picky eaters are more likely to be socially anxious, new research reveals.

And those who are neophobic - fearful of sampling new and novel foods - have low self-esteem in social, physical and academic situations.

The study, published in the journal Food Research International, has revealed that dealing with fussy eaters can be a minefield as dinner time stress spills into other parts of life.

Twins Sienna and Scarlett Parker, 4, have been lucky not to fall into the fussy eating trap, says proud mum Liz. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Twins Sienna and Scarlett Parker, 4, have been lucky not to fall into the fussy eating trap, says proud mum Liz. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Spanish boffins say their findings need further investigation into when fussy eating is normal and when it is a cause for concern. They studied over 800 kids aged eight to 16.

The same researchers from the University of the Basque Country have previously warned against parents sparking a stand-off by pressuring kids to eat certain foods.

Nutrition Australia's Aloysa Hourigan agrees that parents need to be kind and patient when dealing with picky eaters. Mealtimes should be relaxed and positive experiences.

"We see kids who scream if fruit is placed near them or will be in a flap if all the food on their plate it not white or brown," Ms Hourigan said.

"Some children are highly sensitive to textures and smells of foods and in extreme cases parents should seek professional help for guidance on how to encourage a more varied diet."

The nutrition expert suggests parents make sure small children feel secure and safe when they are at the table.

"Make sure legs are not dangling and have a cloth ready to wipe hands if they dislike the feeling of a food," she said.

Sienna and Scarlett Parker from the Gold Coast are confident eaters.

"The twins, now four, have been going to daycare since they were two where they are provided with a wide variety of dishes, like butter chicken," mum Liz Parker said.

"I think when other kids are all tucking in there is more of an incentive to give things a try. That early exposure has helped the girls become adventurous with food."



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