Getting your child to eat shouldn't be a battle. The last thing you want after coming home from work is a fight over broccoli. Consider these tips to avoid the frustration and help your child maintain a balanced diet.
Stick to a Routine
Serve meals and snacks around the same times every day, and keep in mind they should be healthy. Allowing your kids to fill up on snacks throughout the day will most likely reduce his or her appetite for meals.
Respect Your Child's Appetite (or lack of one)
Never force your child to eat, and don't get frustrated if they're not hungry. It's OK if your child skips a snack as long as he or she is getting a balanced diet the rest of the day. On the other hand, if your child is truly hungry, don't withhold food from them. However, be careful not to let hunger be an excuse for unhealthy eating.
Include Your Kids in Shopping and Preparation
Letting your kids be involved in the preparation of a meal will make them more excited to eat it. Ask your child to pick out a veggie at the grocery store, stir the batter, or pour in some ingredients. Your child might be more willing to eat something they had a part in preparing.
Set a Good Example
You are your child's biggest role model. If you eat healthy and try new things, your child is likely to follow suit.
Try to introduce healthy elements into foods your child already likes. Put slices of fruit in cereal, broccoli in a pasta dish, or beans and tomatoes over rice. Continue to offer new and creative meals to sort out exactly what your child likes and doesn't like. You'd be surprised at the things your child finds appetizing!
Dessert Should Not Be a Reward...
Rewarding a child's healthy eating with dessert may send the wrong message. Eating a good meal does not always include a dessert at the end. Reserve desserts for special occasions, or, serve fruit as a dessert a couple times a week if you still want to have something sweet after dinner.
...But Don't Cut Out Treats Altogether!
Rewarding healthy eating with dessert is a no-go, but a treat every once in a while will not hurt! A scoop of ice cream after a school performance or a cookie as an occasional snack is not bad. Withholding treats altogether will make kids more likely to overindulge when they do get their hands on them.
Turn off the TV and put other electronics away during meals. These can distract your child from eating. Plus, eating meals as a family encourages healthy habits.
Don't Buy Junk Food
Out of sight, out of mind! If junk food isn't around, your kids can't eat it. Having lots of healthy snack options is a must, so stock up on things like baby carrots, sliced apples, and 100% fruit juice — instead of chips and cookies.
Introduce new foods slowly and allow your child to explore it before the first bite. It may take a bit before your child discovers his or her new favorite meal. Don't give up!
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About Pediatric Services
Doylestown Health is committed to providing family-centered children's services to Bucks and Montgomery County communities. The Carol and Louis Della Penna Pediatric Center offers expert inpatient care to all ages including infants, children and teens. Della Penna Pediatric Center Services extend beyond the hospital setting to include health and wellness education, nutrition services and other support services.
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