Dr. Zorba Paster: Preventing picky eater consequences

Dr. Zorba Paster: Preventing picky eater consequences


Dear Doc: My child is a fussy eater. What to do? I’ve tried everything but failed. I’m concerned he might not be growing properly. Help! — K.C., from northern Wisconsin

Dear K.C.: Your question is so very important. The food habits we have when we’re young often continue throughout our life. Giving our kids lots of sugary sweet things, not limiting junk food, just giving them processed stuff is teaching them the wrong things. And an eater who limits what they eat is even worse.

It reminds me of a kid who lived down the block from me, Gilly. He would eat only bacon and white bread, no matter what his mom gave him. Not healthy in the least.

A recent study out of the Annals of Internal Medicine hits home the importance of good eating habits. It’s a report of a 17-year-old who went blind because of a lifetime of poor nutrition.

The boy’s mother said all he would eat was french fries, Pringles potato chips and ham sandwiches. When he was 15, his mom took him to the doctor because he was tired all the time. The doc discovered he had a B12 deficiency, gave him a shot and told the mom to feed him better food.

One year later, he returned with hearing loss and decreased vision. A year after that, he was blind.

Blood tests showed his B12 was still low and he didn’t have enough copper or selenium in his blood, which resulted in optic nerve death. Too late to treat. And, by the way, he was beginning to develop osteoporosis. A teen with osteoporosis? Just awful.

A book I highly recommend is “French Kids Eat Everything,” by Karen Le Billon. It just might help you get your kid to eat


And you might eat better, too, if you pay more attention to the food you eat. Mentoring, when it comes to eating, is critical. If you eat junk, they’ll eat junk.

Dear Doc: I read a column you wrote about the importance of reading to your child for brain development. I’m a veterinarian acupuncturist. A retired music teacher who brings her dog to me for treatment has researched a book on the link between music and early learning. What do you think? — D.T., DVM, from Spokane, Washington

Dear D.T.: An article in the journal Frontiers in Psychology bears this out. Researchers looked at all the studies on music and childhood learning they could find published over a six-year period — studies involving music instruction, music education, music training, etc. Their review suggested beneficial effects of music intervention on childhood development.

So it may not be just reading to your child but teaching, learning and listening to music that also help to increase IQ. Sounds sweet to me.

Dear Dr. Z: I own a Fitbit and wear it throughout the night while I sleep. My question is about the time spent in sleep state.

On a recent night, I had results of seven hours and nine minutes either in deep sleep, restless sleep or REM sleep. I also had results of 51 minutes of awake time.

Optimal sleep habits are eight hours, from all I have read. Do I include the 51 minutes of awake time along with the seven-plus hours of sleep time for the preferred eight hours of sleep?

Thanks for your professional advice throughout the years. I always read your columns and listen to your shows. — M.K., from Madison

Dear M.K.: Don’t obsess over the sleep monitor. It just gives you an idea of what your sleep might be like. It works on arm movements. If you move around a lot, you might still be sleeping but the monitor records it as awake time. So if you feel rested and are in bed for seven to eight hours, you’re just fine.

By the way, the same thing applies to the activity part of that Fitbit. It works on arm swings. When I’m on the elliptical my MisFit, my activity monitor of choice, doesn’t record the work I’m doing because it doesn’t read any arm swings.

My spin: The bottom line is to use your monitors as a guide, not as gospel. Stay well.

This column provides general health information. Always consult your personal health care provider about concerns. No ongoing relationship of any sort is implied or offered by Dr. Paster to people submitting questions. Any opinions expressed by Dr. Paster in his columns are personal and are not meant to represent or reflect the views of SSM Health.


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