Mother of three, Lucinda Miller, is also the NatureDoc. She’s the go-to naturopath for children’s health in the UK, taking a scientific and holistic approach to identifying health problems. She explains all about getting your little ones eating well, and how to overcome problems when they arise.
Feeding kids a nourishing, organic diet is the cornerstone to healthy, happy children. In my experience as a children’s naturopath, kids that live on processed food are simply not as resilient, switched on or happy as those whose mums roll up their sleeves and cook from scratch.
A wonderfully healthy diet sounds great in theory, but if you have a picky eater on your hands then this is where you have your work cut out. When you have a child who is a fussy feeder, they will almost always suffer more from infections, have more meltdowns, struggle to sleep through the night and have lower self-confidence. If this goes on for a long time, poor eating habits can have a domino effect on a child’s learning, behaviour and development.
“When you have a child who is a fussy feeder, they will almost always suffer more from infections, have more meltdowns, struggle to sleep through the night and have lower self-confidence.”
I do not believe that children are born fussy eaters. Physical issues like reflux, tongue-tie or enlarged tonsils always need to be checked. Allergies, zinc deficiency and early antibiotic use can all contribute to whether a child eats well or not. I always ask the mum when the fussiness started, as this information can give a clearer idea of how to turn the child around.
Children who do not eat well or who have been unwell for a long period will need time to build up their nutritional reserves. Even the healthiest of diets are often not enough and this is where supplementation is essential. Some kids have very complex issues and high-quality targeted supplements can make a real difference. These food and herbal supplements do need to be individualised and this is where you will need the skills of a naturopath or nutritional therapist.
“I believe in mother’s instinct and I always ask a mum what she thinks is wrong with her child. Nine times out of ten, a mum’s hunch is spot on…”
I believe in mother’s instinct and I always ask a mum what she thinks is wrong with her child. Nine times out of ten, a mum’s hunch is spot on and she simply needs to have her intuition reassured. I believe every child has the right to great health. It is good to sort out little issues when kids are young so they do not turn into much greater issues when they are older.
I am very keen to cultivate children with a passion for food, and to enjoy new flavours and textures. I am bringing my kids up to be mini foodies, appreciating where food comes from, and not thinking that food always comes out of a plastic wrapper. Part of this comes through making extremely tasty and filling food for your little ones. Finding healthy recipes that kids love is the key to getting this right.
“I only cut out specific food types such as gluten or dairy once we have hard evidence of a food sensitivity from proper laboratory testing.”
Too many people are focused on the negatives of different foods and end up restricting their family food choices to the extreme. I am into celebrating the diversity of food, and enjoying family meals that encompass different tastes and cultures. I only cut out specific food types such as gluten or dairy once we have hard evidence of a food sensitivity from proper laboratory testing. We need to know how significant food reactions are to the body, both in the short- and long-term. It is crucial to rule out more serious issues such as coeliac disease before making big diet changes.
I also believe in individuality and that one diet does not suit all. I have seen such a diverse number of children in my clinic from every ethnic and cultural combination. It is so important to consider what the child’s grandparents and great-grandparents ate and work on a diet that is as close to this as possible, as well as taking on board the child’s specific nutritional needs.
“I believe in individuality and that one diet does not suit all… It is important to consider what the child’s grandparents and great-grandparents ate.”
The only reason I have been able to get the work-mummy balance right is that my three kids are bright, happy and healthy and they are rarely ill. I invested in their health when they were tiny and ironed out any issues they had with their health then (glue ear, food intolerances, gut issues, mineral deficiencies and dyspraxia), so now they are very resilient without any health hang-ups or special dietary restrictions.
I love the fact that we can now walk out of the door without a bag full of medications or special food and just enjoy life without health restrictions or worry. This is my aim for all my little clients.
My core beliefs:
Feed your children nourishing foods made from scratch. Avoid processed foods.
Pay attention to fussy eating. What are they trying to tell you?
Supplements are needed in many cases. Diet is not always enough.
Believe in a mother’s instinct. Leave no stone unturned until you get your child’s health back on track. Kids’ food needs to be yummy and filling. Enjoy experimenting with new tastes and textures.
Any significant diet changes should be evidence-based. No faddy diets for kids!
Work on any health niggles when your children are tiny. You can help them be bright, healthy and robust.
Header image: Kristin Perers