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How to Encourage a Healthy Eater

Does your angel hate Broccoli?

Most kids do.
Not all, but most.
It's green....and green isn't always a yummy-looking color, for starters.

But once a broccoli hater, will he/she always be a broccoli hater?

Not like you would think.

Just because they won't eat their greens now, doesn't mean you need to switch to peanut butter and jelly just yet. And it doesn't mean they will never eat anything healthy ever.

They sometimes even need a little coaxing to try them,  using a reward or treat.
Maybe a bite of peas equals a little applesauce or fruit cocktail. Maybe a whole serving of vegie eaten equals a little bowl of popcorn or ice-cream for dessert.

Sprucing up foods can also be tried.

My favorite is melted cheese. Use some Velveeta or a piece of american cheese. (The orange kind makes the food look more appealing!) A little butter, salt or garlic is also okay if you don't show them that you are using it, because you really do not want kids dependent on those things to eat all foods...and some will get stuck on the fact that they 'need' it. Eventually, you can phase it out if they have acquired a taste for the vegie itself.

Remember, the key to kids being open to tasting things again is that you excuse them if they do not like it still. Do not force them to eat it all.

Explain that you would be proud of them for giving that food 'another try'. Let them know that you understand it's not exactly their favorite, but one bite will not hurt, and if they don't like it it's okay.

This last part is important.

The best things to do are:

  • Offer plenty of healthy foods to start with, especially when they are babies and offer a variety (if grown ups love tomatoes, but the babe will only eat corn, why not put peas and carrots with the corn.

  • Don't stress and don't force-this makes kids want to take control from you so that they feel safe and comfortable.

  • Find other ways for them to get their vitamins. Pediatricians can help with supplements.

If you offer enough of the right foods, you will never have to worry if your kids are getting all the nutrients they need (meaning you won't be so inclined to force him to like/eat his broccoli).

Another thing to pay attention to:

Don't get stuck in the now. This is a stage and someday they will grow up eating other things which are healthy and you won't be stressing that they won't eat their spinach.

They will try it again..and they may try things you wouldn't think and surprise you.

Taste buds change. What a kid does, or does not, like can be the opposite a year from now.

My eldest daughter (fourteen) has decided that she loves raw onions, my middle child now enjoys plain milk and my seven year old son adores peas (no kidding, the kid gets his own bowl at dinner!).

It may take a while, and even take some tweaking, but you will find what matches your child's taste buds and your idea of a healthy diet, eventually.

Stress and arguing over it can become a power struggle and that is not a thing to associate food with...
Be patient and remember this stage will pass. Don't get so stuck  on what they eat, as much as that they eat healthy most of the time and frequently.

Is or Was Your Child a Difficult Eater?
What Worked/What Didn't?

Check these out for new ideas on healthy foods for picky eaters:
My 10 Recipes to Try
Advice From Other Moms
More Recipes for Picky Eaters

Stay tuned Fun Friday for some games to play with your Picky Eater
and ways to teach children healthier eating habits.

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