Are Picky Eaters Destined to Be Anemic?

April Peveteaux

picky eaterGetting the right foods into a toddler who wrinkles her nose at the sight of anything green can be challenging. Which is why I *thought* we were doing a good job with my picky daughter by making sure she had fruits and vegetables every day. But it appears we should have been paying more attention, as we just got word that the little choosy thing is low in iron. Way too low. (Excuse me as I smack my forehead for thinking not eating much meat was a good thing.)

So now the challenge is to get her to switch from carrots and peas to spinach and broccoli. From pasta to beans, and to add some meat into her diet as well. Although I have to think, if our girl -- who eats relatively well, in spite of the pickiness -- is anemic, what about all of those other picky toddlers?

It turns out while we're not completely alone in our diagnosis, the CDC reports a decline in children diagnosed with anemia. And furthermore, the majority of kids with the diagnosis are children who live in a home that uses the WIC program, or homes where someone smokes. We're neither of those, so I'm left wondering how it happened to our middle-class, eco-friendly'ish home.

Could it be the backlash against meat? Since we try to reduce the amount of meat-eating in our home, it's possible we substitute grains too often, since the little lady won't touch leafy greens. She's also a big milk drinker, and too much milk actually does cause the condition labeled "milk anemia." Milk actually can prevent the absorption of iron, causing anemia in small children.

So basically by feeding my picky eater grains, fruits, vegetables, and milk (instead of juice), it led to her low iron levels. Instead of feeling like a good mom for giving her what I considered to be the most important foods, it's just shown me that the food pyramid is not only a recommendation, but a requirement. D'oh.

Did your toddler have anemia?


Image via abbybatchelder/Flickr

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