≡ Menu

Food choices at different stages of life

About food choicesPhysical and health reasons for food choices > Food choices at different stages of life

Foods that people choose and avoid at different stages of their lives


To improve fertility, there are a number of dietary regimes that suggest foods to choose and to avoid or restrict.


During pregnancy, food impacts the mother and the baby. The mother becomes immunocompromised, and may avoid foods that could cause food-borne illnesses, such as soft cheeses which may carry listeria which can cause miscarriage. Other foods may cause her discomfort, or she may develop new food aversions, especially during the first three months of pregnancy when morning sickness is common. To avoid hurting the baby, she may avoid foods high in toxins or other foods for other reasons. An example is large fish, which can contain a lot of mercury which can affect the baby’s brain development and the nervous system. She may also choose to eat more foods believed to be nutritious.

Babies and weaning

Babies obviously can’t eat the same foods as adults. If the baby is nursing, the mother might avoid certain foods that cause the baby pain or discomfort, such as strong flavors, gassy foods, excessive caffeine, and alcohol. If breast feeding isn’t possible, the caregiver may give the baby formula milk. There are different opinions about which of these are good or bad – some may avoid giving cow’s milk formula because they believe the nutrient balance is wrong, or soy formula because they believe it’s bad for the baby’s health.

When it comes to weaning, there are different opinions on what age to start and which foods to start with. Some foods, such as allergy-producing peanuts, may be avoided until later on to allow the baby’s immune system to develop. Early stages of weaning may involve simple foods, and later stages more complex foods and combinations.

Young children

As their eating habits develop, young children can become very picky eaters for a number of reasons. They are being introduced to new foods, which they don’t necessarily like straight away for taste or textural reasons. They have automatic negative reactions to potentially poisonous foods such as bitter flavors or slimy textures. They are also asserting their independence and may avoid foods as a display of autonomy. Also, young children are much more likely than adults to have food allergies, as their immune systems are not yet fully developed.


Here are extremes. Some adolescents can eat large amounts of any food without any obvious side effects, while others struggle with obesity, acne, or body issues, trying to restrict their food to avoid these problems.


As we reach adulthood, our bodies change and we can’t necessarily eat everything we got away with when we were younger. This is partially because we begin to lose the excessive energy of youth that makes anything possible, and partly because we become more conscious about how some foods may affect us. At some point, we may become interested in optimizing our diet for longevity.

Old age

As we get older, we’re more likely to develop chronic medical conditions and to really notice when foods disagree with us. With more medical conditions, more medication may be taken, and some of these shouldn’t be combined with certain foods. With less activity, there’s less need for energy, and food intake decreases. It may become more difficult to open packaging. Also, chewing and swallowing often become more difficult – 15 million Americans have dysphagia or difficulty swallowing, according to the chewing and swallowing difficulties, according to the Easy To Swallow, Easy To Chew Cookbook; more have difficulty chewing.