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Picky eaters come in various shapes and sizes. You can have 6 year olds refusing to eat their vegetables or 3 year olds refusing to eat anything at all. It can be worrying to you to think that your child isn’t getting the right kind of nutrition that they need for a healthy all-round development.
Here are some tips to help you get some nutrition into your picky eater:
If there are elements of a healthy diet that your child already likes, start adding fruits and veggies into those into your diet. Add fresh fruits into their cereal, add tossed, spiced vegetables into their rice and so on. This can make it easier to have them eat something new without it being an entirely new dish.
If your children are involved in the preparation of the dish, that is in the buying of the groceries and maybe you could let them help you in the kitchen, they might feel like they are ‘part’ of the meal and that might help them be more interested in eating it.
When there is no unhealthy food in the house, they will not have the temptation to load up on unhealthy snacks just before a meal. When they do get hungry, make sure you give them interesting, colourful snacks like carrot sticks, apples, fresh juice and smoothies.
If you set regular times at which your family has meal times and snack times, your children will be more likely to eat what they get at those times. When giving them healthy snacks, try to incorporate two food groups, crackers with cheese or fruits with yoghurt and so on.
Kids love to use their hands so make sure that you have finger foods on hand that are interesting to them. Even food that they might otherwise not eat like vegetables might be interesting to them if cut up in different shapes that they can hold with their hands and bite into.
This works well with younger children when you have lots of different brightly colored food available for them to eat so that they feel interested in their plate throughout the meal. Uniformly colored meals might seem disinteresting to them. Have variety in their plates.
Don’t ban treats in the house altogether. Keep everything in moderation however. Let then have a bowl of ice-cream with the family or indulge in snacks at movie night but do not allow them free reign of the cookie jar.
Meal times are supposed to be focused on the meals not on the TV or other distractions. Instruct them to keep away their books and games during meal times to ensure that they eat without being distracted and that they eat until they are full.
When the family eats together it creates a special atmosphere for the child to learn how to behave. It also helps the child to learn eating habits by emulating their parents and older siblings. Eating as a family will help you to coax your child gently into trying out new foods as they are more likely to in front of the whole family than when they are being fed separately.
You can’t ask them to eat their vegetables if you don’t eat vegetables yourself. Children are impressionable and they like to imitate their elders and they will notice if you don’t practice what you preach.
Sometimes they are just not hungry. You shouldn’t be force feeding your child just because you think they ought to be hungry at that time. Let them come to you when they are hungry and that will make it easier to find something they like to eat.
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