Thursday, May 14, 2009

Picky Eater Question Answered

NewsAnchorMom Reader Susie asked this question during our discussion on picky eaters. I got a great response! I will definitely be using these tips at my house!

"We pay for strawberries year-round too since that and apples are the only fruits all 3 will eat. What I struggle with is finding meals for dinner that everyone likes. The doc always says not to make special foods for each child...but if I don't then someone doesn't eat and spends all night whining that she's hungry!!Should I really just let them starve if they won't eat what's on their plate?"~ Susie

Karen Hutton, a Registered Dietitian at Methodist Medical Center has some tips for us!

1. Make family mealtimes a priority: Plan healthy meals in advance to ensure that you are offering a wide range of healthy items and that each member can offer their suggestions. Research shows that children who eat with their family tend to have a healthier diet. With busy schedules it can be hard to sit down for a family meal, but even one or two nights a week can have a positive effect. Breakfast or lunch can be eaten together if a family dinner is not an option.

2. Be flexible about food: Being overly restrictive about food can lead to an unhealthy preoccupation with food. Never offer food as a reward or a punishment. You can’t expect perfection but you can make sure that the majority of choices are healthy. Also, if it seems that a picky eater isn’t open to new choices, be persistent. Most kids need several exposures to a new food before becoming comfortable with a new item. At each meal, then increase the size.

3. Encourage input: It is important to seek your child’s involvement in the family’s menu. Bring kids into the kitchen by allowing them to help with the menu and do age-appropriate tasks like setting the table or tearing lettuce for the salad. Planning a menu and posting it on the refrigerator allows each family member to know and look forward to their suggestion. You can plan 2 -3 weeks and then repeat them.

4. Get active: A proper diet is just one ingredient for a healthy lifestyle. Planning regular physical activities as a family is a great way to encourage your kids to get active.

5. Be a good role model: Children learn from their parents. Parents can be a great influence on your children simply by having a healthy relationship with food and engaging in physical activity.Parents often complain that their children are picky eaters. Have you considered how much your picky eater is eating before he sits down to the meal? If your child consistently turns up his nose at the dinner table, take a good look at what he’s been eating and drinking prior to getting there. Some kids fill up on milk or juice between meals, some just graze all day.Children need to be allowed to get hungry, which may mean cutting back on snacking or drinking (besides water) between meals. Your picky eater may start coming to the table with a great appetite.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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