You are here:
  1. Home
  2. Blog
  3. Interwebs
  4. Food, Fussiness and Intolerances

Food, Fussiness and Intolerances

 |  Interwebs, Parenting

I read a post on Frugal Queen‘s blog last month where she answered reader’s questions. One question asked how she kept everyone in the family happy when there were lots of mouths to feed. FQ’s response was typical “it’s not happened to me so it must not be real” ignorant nonsense:

If you have fussy kids, who are faddy eaters,then shame on you the parent as you’ve brought them up to be like that, and you’ve pandered to them.

I tried to respond to the post saying it was bullshit and either blogspot ate it or it was moderated; either way it didn’t go through.

Oh, I’d have probably said the same thing before I had Isabel. Or indeed for the first couple of years when she ate everything that was put in front of her. Gradually, though, the food fussing has snuck in. Not liking mushrooms, courgettes, aubergine. Only eating mash if it’s got gravy on it. Liking broccoli but not purple sprouting broccoli. Liking green apples but not red ones, but only on certain days of the week. Eating cabbage at nursery but not at home. This is just a snapshot, the list is fairly intensive – I’m sure you get the point.

According to FQ this is my fault. I’m not serving enough “cottage pie, stew and dumplings, fishy pie, pasties, quiche, curry, soup, home made bread and cakes”. Obviously she’s not seen my meal plans

This is a kid who, when presented with her lunch and homemade chocolate cake pudding, chose the lunch over the pudding (because she had peas! We love peas!) Who, at the beginning of the month when we met up at my mum’s to celebrate my brother’s birthday, ate 5 large serving spoonfuls of peas and carrots and then asked for ice cream instead of cake for pudding so that she could mix her remaining peas in. She’s not fussy because I’ve fed her junk food (this is a kid who’s only had Haribo once in her life), she just has a long list of foods she doesn’t like.

It reinforces something I’ve discovered about parenting: you can sit on your high horse smug that you’re doing the right thing but until you’ve directly experienced something chances are you’re one step away from being knocked off & made to look a fool. Which brings me nicely to me next point: I’m just as big an ignorant fool.

I’ve always assumed that food intolerances are very much a middle class thing. Up there with fussiness, intolerances don’t happen to kids who have little choice over what they eat. Which is probably why, blinded by my own ignorance, I’ve attributed over 9 months of grumpy, windy, sicky, fussy Oliver to everything other than an intolerance. He has a cold, he’s teething, another cold, over-tired, over-stimulated, not napped well enough, more teeth (he does have 8 of the bloody things!) etc.

Except it turns out, that when I keep a close eye on what I’m eating I see a pattern emerging. The day I had pudding made with a lot of evaporated milk? Up all night screaming. The day after when I had leftover evaporated milk in my coffee all day? Up all night screaming. The next day when I was too busy to make a coffee and had no dairy? Slept fine. Last night, when we had pizza thick with cheese? Hours of screaming.

I don’t eat or drink a lot of dairy which is probably why day-to-day little symptoms go unnoticed, and it’s only when I eat more that it’s obvious something is amiss. So while I sit here waiting for the health visitor to ring so I can talk to her about cow’s milk protein intolerance, thinking over the prospect of an immediate future with no ice cream, I can’t help but think there’s a lesson to be learned. Something about being a know-it-all?

Not me, of course. I really do know everything. ;)

Jem Turner +44(0)7521056376

23 comments so far

  1. Hanna said:

    I suppose somehow you could blame my parents for my lactose intolerance… damn genes! :P

    I suppose fussiness depends on parents attitudes too a lot but every kid is different. I’ve never been that fussy, not even as a child (I have things I really don’t like but I think it’s fairly short list), on the other hand my brother was super fussy when it came to food and eating. But he grew out of it (I think I might actually be more fussier these days in the end *blush*).

    ps. PEAS I LOVE THEM!!!!! <3<3<3<3<33<3<33

  2. Rachael said:

    You can get dairy free ice cream!

    As for how to get a child to stop being a fussy eater, I have no idea. I was 24 before I started to eat what most people consider ‘normal’ and while I’m now a lot better than I was, I’m still not good with a long list of things. :-(

  3. Kim said:

    Would’t put much hope on them giving you a quick answer, my mum waited from when I was 8 month til 8 years old for them to finally agree, yes I am dairy intolerant and also have IBS.

    As for fussy eaters, I’ve gone through many lists of foods I refused to it or did not like, there are foods I ate when I was younger that I don’t now and foods I hated when I was younger that I now eating. I’m talking primary school age. I think people’s tastes do change, but maybe that’s just me!

    • Jem said:

      From what I’ve been reading, IBS is a common side effect of untreated dairy intolerance (i.e. continuing to consume dairy). Sorry to hear your mum had a crap time getting it recognised.

      I agree – people’s tastes change, people grow out of fussiness. There’s tons of things I eat now that I wouldn’t touch as a kid.

  4. Mumblies said:

    You can blame me for the milk and lactose intolerance problems, I’ve had them all my life. I still smile at how funny it was watching Izz devouring those peas and carrots like she did. Hey who knows – it might be really tasty.Victoria used to dive into spaghetti bolognese with gusto, until the day she decided that she hated it and since then she’s not touched it since, also she would eat mushrooms and now she won’t (nor will Jonathan) and yet both ate them when they were little, they both however will eat raw mushroom.
    I think so long as they eat something and you try to get in as much healthy veggies than you can I’m sure that eventually they will settle into a regime of eating properly so you don’t worry about their foody fads.

  5. Aisling said:

    I have issues with lactose… not that it stops me. But there are plenty of great alternatives to dairy. Almond milk in my coffee is not too different from milk or cream, apart from a slight consistency change. Although I still can’t drink it straight. I got used to soy milk lattes. I CANNOT give up cheese though and because of that I tend to think “well, I’m eating cheese, so I may as well have 4 cups of milk” which is not the best, probably. I’ve heard things about pro-biotic yogurts making other dairy products easier to stomach (lolol) because they have their own enzymes or something to help out the lack of ones that should be in your body and so far that seems to be true. Again, I am the worst but I REALLY need to get my act together because I can tell it’s causing me a lot of TMI issues haha.

  6. Melissa said:

    Both Andrew and William have this problem. Andrew can’t have cow’s milk, but he can have ice cream, cheese, yogurt, etc in moderation. William, I’m not too sure about yet. I’m too scared to try any dairy with him for fear of upsetting what little balance we have in this household! I have both of them on soy milk (William on formula) and I actually like the taste better than cow’s milk. Almond milk is also good.

  7. Tanya said:

    What nonsense from FQ – fussy easting is very common in young children. They’re designed that way – they’re much smaller and delicate than we are, so being extra cautious about what goes in their mouth is a basic survival mechanism. It has nothing to do with parenting.

    I’m also lactose intolerant. I grew up in a working class household where there wasn’t always quite enough food to go around, and was also guilty of doubting people who I saw as being ‘fussy’ – ie, in some way food intolerant. It’s far more common (especially the lactose thing!) than I ever thought possible.

  8. Sam said:

    Our first kid was a nightmare & we found that the GP was totally dismissive of our suspecting lactose intolerance as the cause (despite our matching correlation between dairy & child response nine times) (seriously, nine times). After 8ish months of hell we discovered Lactase Enzyme which sorted the kid out within a week and actually she’s not at all lactose intolerant now..

    It may have been a period of under-developed digestion, when she wasn’t quite able to break it down or whatever, point is there’s no harm in reading around the subject and staying in tune with what the kid and your instinct is saying!

  9. Emsz said:

    A lot (over 50%) of children who are diagnosed when they are really little grow out of it before they are five :). (I should know, this is what my bachelor thesis is about!)
    Yeah, you’ll have to give up your ice-cream habit, but it hopefully won’t be forever, as you can certainly have some when Oliver is weaned.

    Good luck! :)

  10. April said:

    That sort of general idea that parents are to blame for a kid’s fussiness is a load of crap. My nana used to say “when you are older you are allowed taste buds but for now, you will eat what you are given!” (No, nana, I have taste buds now and they are saying this mushroom is SHIT) And then there’s that lady next door that INSISTED I drink a glass of milk whenever my mum let her babysit me, even though a little later down the track it was discovered I am lactose intolerant (and now, funnily enough, dairy FAT intolerant) and that is why I was awfully sick for days after I had been babysit by her.

    I mean, I was a fussy kid – I used to refuse to eat a mandarin without the “cobwebs” being picked off it. Now THAT is fussy but genuinely not liking a food – why should we have to force ourselves to eat something we hate when we are little but when we are older we are grown up enough to pick and choose? Not fair!

    These sorts of ignorant notions from people are exactly what gets young children killed because they are allergic to something or have an intolerance, and ignore it. If poor baby Oliver’s reaction do dairy went unnoticed by you, he could be in a lot worse way! Thank god you are actually observant with these things.

    And don’t worry, there is dairy free ice cream! :)

  11. Stephanie said:

    Growing up middle class, I will say that many (if not most) American middle class parents don’t give their kids any choice of food even though they can afford to. I can remember my parents saying “Eat your vegetables or you’re not allowed to leave the table and go play” all the time. At school, all my friends complained about being forced to eat fruits and vegetables. I’m pretty sure that there are plenty of kids who have never tasted sweets that think that all vegetables taste bad! (I hope that Isabel + peas remains an exception. :D)

    Let’s hope that Isabel likes dairy-free ice cream! Poor Oliver will be missing out, though.

  12. Samantha said:

    Don’t think I’ve ever commented though I’m a long time reader. I was just moved to after this post. When I was a baby my mum didn’t know what was wrong with me, she just knew something was. I’d be sick all the time, sometimes I’d scream but my mum said what was far more frightening was when I wouldn’t cry, I’d just whimper and she could tell I was in agony. I didn’t sleep and I was three and a half before I slept through the night. You see I was lactose intolerant which caused migraines and night wakefulness. Apparently the not sleeping thing is very common to this allergy.

    Anyway I’m 23 now and have had a life without milk. If I touch a drop I’m in for three/four days of migraines which isn’t worth it. Now my mum never had your situation as I was older by the time she worked it out. There’s no test for allergies so she tried me off milk for a while (I stopped being constantly ill) and then it broke her heart but she fed me milk again and I was sick.

    There are alternatives to many milk products, certainly a lot more than when I was a child. You can get dairy free milk, yogurt, icecream, chocolate and butter. I’m not sure about cheese as I’ve never looked. The problem with these alternatives is they are more money than the regular kind. Long life fake milk isn’t that bad on price as it might be hard for you to adjust to black coffee and dry cereal.

    For Oliver it really is what you get used too. As I said when I was little they didn’t have all these alternatives. I ate my cereal dry, made porridge with water, lollies instead of icecream, fruit instead of chocolate. True I sometimes wanted to be like the other kids, especially at the seaside when everyone walks about with icecream. However now you can get cones of sorbet at the icecream shop. Perhaps more people are coming down with the condition. It is definitely more common in Europe. My grandparents went on holiday one year and told me about this icecream shop that had as many different flavours of non dairy as dairy.

    Anyway that’s enough out of me. The food fussiness thing isn’t down to you either, kids go through phases. I used to eat bananas as a child all the time, until one day I announced that my mum had over-bananaed me and I haven’t eaten one since. However, I was as a kid and still am mad about broccoli. I’ve also always loved oranges. I don’t like roast chicken but oven cooked chicken breast is fine. The flavour/texture is different. Kids make their own minds up anyway. Just it’s good you’ve caught Oliver’s thing early as he hasn’t had a chance to like what he’s allergic too yet. To do this day I love bounty icecream and bounty bars. Haven’t had one in 20 years but I still remember how much I like them.

    • Stephanie said:

      Reading your comment was fascinating. I am an avid dairy lover, and I suffer for it. I know it causes IBS flare ups for me, but with enough Immodium, I figure it’s worth it. But I also suffer chronic migraines (currently controlled through medication) and insomnia. I wasn’t aware the two were linked. I don’t think I could ever go off dairy, but I could cut my consumption and attempt different substitutes, at least long enough to see if it makes a difference for me. Thanks for the information!

  13. Manda said:

    I can’t speak to lactose intolerance as I’m not nor is anyone else in my family, but I was SUCH a picky eater as a child. The only vegetables I would eat as a kid were broccoli and this Chinese dish that involved this leafy green vegetable cooked with fermented bean curd. (I know – of all the veggie dishes in the world, a stinky fermented dish was the one I liked?!) I didn’t start eating, and really enjoying, a wide variety of vegetables until I was 19 or 20. This is through no fault of my mother; the poor woman despaired of ever getting me to eat vegetables even though they were served for every meal. It’s just something kids grow out of, although usually much earlier than I did!

  14. Nok said:

    I live in Thailand and we get brought up to eat what we are given, food can be scarce in rural villages. We often exchange food items with neighbours, if my neighbour grows corn and my family grows rice we exchange. The young boys like to hunt small lizards and bbq them for a tasty snack.

  15. Katherine said:

    Cows milk intolerance is far more common than one might initially imagine. 2 of my cousins were intolerant to cows milk (1 also to breast milk X_x) and were nursed on Goats milk. Quite interesting stuff!

  16. Lou said:

    Most of the world is lactose intolerant so don’t feel bad about it. It’s only the west that continue to consume a lot of cow milk. I work in a bakery and I am lactose intolerant with IBS and it’s complete hell tbh. Cheese is ok though as the older the cheese and the harder, the less lactose.

  17. Diane said:

    quote [I tried to respond to the post saying it was bullshit and either blogspot ate it or it was moderated; either way it didn’t go through] unquote
    She will have deleted it.
    From twitter
    Are you having troll issues btw? I haven’t seen any mean comments.
    Her reply
    hi Hun xx I don’t publish them xx

Follow on Instagram