Parent Tips for Giving Healthy Foods
Your child's growth and development depend largely on a proper diet. Feeding your child healthy food might be a simple concept, but, as many parents learn, it is not always a simple task. Picky eaters can be hard to please when it comes to nutritious foods. Learn some tips and tricks for getting your child to eat healthier foods, and you and your child can be on your way to a happy and healthy meal.
Make it Fun
To encourage your child to eat healthy foods, try to make meals and snacks fun. For example, use dinnerware that is brightly colored or has designs with cartoon characters. If your child is younger, arrange his vegetables and other healthy foods on his plate in a fun shape. Also, try to involve your child in meal choices and preparation. For example, let your child choose between two vegetables for dinner, or let an older child help mix ingredients. This will give your child a stronger sense of control of and inclusion in family meals. Another way to make healthy eating fun is to have your child help you grow a vegetable patch or pick fruit from an orchard.
Be a Role Model
Your child's food preferences are often related to your food preferences, so it is essential that you be a good role model when it comes to nutritious foods. If you don't set a good example and eat healthy foods yourself, it's hard to serve healthy foods and expect your child to eat them. Show that you enjoy eating right, and try to be enthusiastic when you serve vegetables, fruits and other nutritious foods. Also, although you are encouraging good eating habits, don't restrict any food altogether, as this can deepen your child's desire for that food.
Don't Give In
Many children go through food jags, or periods of time when they only want to eat the same foods every day. This is normal, but you don't need to give in to it. If you provide a variety of healthy choices and let your child decide, she will eventually choose something if she is truly hungry. As a parent, your job is to make healthy food options accessible to your child, and it should be up to your child to decide which foods and how much food she wants to eat.
Liking a new food isn't always instantaneous with children. In fact, it can take 10 or more exposures to a new food before your child learns to like it. When you introduce a new food to your child, start by asking him to try just one bite. If he refuses, don't force it. Forcefulness, nagging and bribery are ineffective in the long run, and they can make healthy eating seem like a chore. Try to introduce new healthy foods often in order to acclimate your child to trying new foods. Also, in order to avoid feelings of betrayal, be up front with what the food is -- don't try to sneak healthy foods in with other foods without telling your child.
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