Does your son or daughter live on applesauce and crackers alone? Here are some tips on how to encourage your child to eat a healthy and balanced diet.
Why Kids Are Choosy
First, kids being picky eaters is totally normal: Being choosy about what foods kids eat is a way children can gain control. In fact, it’s an expected and completely normal developmental behavior. Most of the time a child is particular not because of the taste of the food, but because saying “no!” to Mom is sure to get a good response. This makes eating entertaining for kids — but unfortunately not for parents.
Because we all love our children, we want to make them happy. Don’t fall into the trap of offering only bland food in place of healthy and rich choices. If you’re diligent about giving your son or daughter healthy options, they’ll eventually accept them and probably even grow to like them. It may not be an easy road, but here are tips to get you started:
Prevent a bad habit from forming by offering healthy choices from an early age and encourage your little ones to experiment with different foods.
Set Realistic Food Goals
Describe foods like broccoli and carrots, rather than cookies and brownies, as “special treats”. It’s not realistic to expect your child to eat a huge serving of something he or she does not like. Instead, encourage him or her to have a bite or two and gradually work your way up.
Use the same strategies at every meal. Put new foods on the plate first and offer lots of encouragement. Don’t give in to stubbornness! Don’t rush mealtimes: Children are slow eaters; it’s just a fact!
Congratulate your child even for one bite of a new food. This is a big deal for picky eaters! Remind them that it may take a couple bites to notice the great flavor of a food if they say they do not like it at first.
Be a good role model: You can’t expect to raise a child who has a healthy diet if you do not follow one yourself. Children learn by imitating! Don’t punish your child for not eating a new food; it takes some children longer to get used to trying new things. And eating should be pleasurable for all!