I have two kids: one a healthy, adventurous, vegetarian and the other a picky eating omnivore. I, myself, was a picky eater as a child. I used to think that picky eaters were a result of laxative parenting; however, my own children have taught me there is more to it than that.
A new study reported in the Guardian has caught my attention merely from the leading headline:
Children allowed to be picky eaters develop allergies
Allowing children to be picky eaters could make them more prone to allergies later in life, scientists have warned.
Allowed to be picky eaters…scientists have never met my son. He is presented with the same wholesome foods as his sister, but he turns his nose up at new things. For instance, yesterday he wouldn’t even try the chocolate treats I made, and he loves chocolate. It is true that I do allow him to make other choices at dinner, perhaps not as healthy as those being served, but I don’t feel that picky eating is a personality disorder.
The results of this new study suggesting “picky eating” leads to allergies is contrary to what I have always intuited. I believe we should listen to our bodies. If we avoid a food, like my son avoids nuts, then perhaps there are sensitivities we must honor.
Turns out, the Guardian article is not so much about picky eating, as the headline implies, but it is about avoiding feeding your child highly allergic foods when they are young.
Prof Gideon Lack, of King’s College, said that until recently mothers were told to breastfeed for up to six months before introducing their babies to other food, and keep them away from possible allergens until the age of two or three.
The idea, he said, was to “wrap the infant up in a sort of immunological cocoon and not expose them to proteins that could launch allergic reactions.
“There is a possibility that we were achieving the reverse of our intentions through this avoidance policy,” he told the Nature journal.
Waiting to expose young children to highly allergic foods is not the same as picky eating! The Guardian has it all wrong. The headline does not match the story. Even so, they caution:
But because studies into allergies have typically followed small groups over brief time periods, there is still no firm evidence over whether desensitising children to foods like peanuts is temporary or permanent.
We waited until our children were over a year, and yes they were still breastfeeding, to try strawberries, dairy, soy, peanuts, and gluten. I would do it again, and it has nothing to do with picky eating.