Monthly Archives: November 2013

Why are some kids considered ‘fussy eaters’?

Recently my nine month old daughter pleasantly surprised me with her new found appreciation for lentils. It was only a month ago when I prepared the same lentils that her little face contorted in such a way that said, “no way – I am not eating that” and yet  five minutes later she would happily gulp down her pear and banana puree. The experience has got me thinking about what makes some babies and children ‘fussy eaters’.

The answer could be found in our taste buds. That’s right, natures clever way of allowing us to taste various flavours might be a contributing factor to ‘fussy eating’. As babies we start out with thousands of tastebuds all over our mouths. Adults, however only have various concentrations of taste buds scattered in different parts of the mouth and tongue. As we age, some of those taste buds don’t get replaced, therefore flavours are far more intense for children than for us adults.

Something as simple as the bitterness of overcooked brussel sprouts (for example) or too much garlic could be what is turning them off certain foods. As with the lentils, by simply leaving out the cooked onions I had used in the first batch, my daughter seems to enjoy eating her lovely lentils. This is definitely something worth considering when feeding our kids. Here is the link to the lentil recipe mentioned in this post.


The sugar factor

Sugar is a relatively new food in the human diet, becoming widely available since the 1500s. It hasn’t taken long for sugar to become widely used and extremely popular in our day to day diets.

Nutritionists distinguish two main types of sugars; intrinsic sugars which are naturally occurring to foods such as milk, fruit and sweet vegetables and extrinsic sugars which are added to our food during preparation or at the time of consumption, such as biscuits, cakes and sweet drinks. The main sugar in our diet is sucrose (white sugar) which is derived from sugar cane. In the USA they prefer sugars derived from corn known as high fructose corn syrup for it’s suitability for many processed foods and it’s ability to extend food shelf life.

Sucrose is a disaccharide (double sugar), which is made up of two monosaccharides (single sugars); glucose (known as blood sugar, dextrose or grape sugar) and fructose (the sugar in fruit). The intrinsic sugars in milk, fruit and vegetables are made up of essential vitamins, minerals, fibre and fats.  Extrinsic sugar, however only provides kilojoules of energy but no valuable nutrients.

So what is the appropriate daily intake of sugar in our diet? No added sugar is actually needed in our diet, and unfortunately there is insufficient evidence to recommend an exact intake of added sugars, however limiting added sugars in the form of sugar-sweetened drinks is a good start. Did you know that a standard soft drink contains around 16 teaspoons of sugar and that a daily drink could lead to an added six kilograms of weight each year. The World Health Organisation recommends that no more than 10% of energy should come from added sugars. Recent data from the the US suggests 5-10% of energy from added sugars is appropriate. This is much less than current Australian consumption which suggests that more education is vital to changing the way in which we incorporate sugar in our diet. For more information go to: