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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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When children say no to greens

Small children will often eat only a few foods. If they refuse point blank to try new types of vegetable, it’s bound to cause mealtime stress.

Many parents worry that their child isn’t eating a healthy diet and isn’t developing sensible eating habits. In the long run these concerns usually prove to be unfounded.

It’s important to stay relaxed and be patient

It is perfectly normal for young children to go through phases where their food intake is very one-sided and where the size of their appetite isn’t the same each day either. That is when parents most need to be patient and keep calm. With a bit of help from you even highly selective eaters will over time broaden the range of foods they are prepared to eat and their choice of dishes. The learning process plays an important role when developing a sense of taste. There are some tastes that you have to acquire. It’s quite all right if your toddler initially refuses to eat broccoli or spinach. But don’t take these greens off the menu; rather keep on offering them. It is advisable to avoid any form of coercion – let alone punishment – when trying to persuade your child to give new greens a try. In this way you avoid power struggles at the dining table.

Remember: Eyes like to feast as well

Children may reject certain foodstuffs because the consistency doesn’t appeal to them. So try preparing the vegetables you want your toddler to learn to like in a variety of ways – raw and finely grated, cooked or fried, in mouth-sized pieces with a dip or puréed in a soup. Children are more likely to eat if the food on their plate looks attractive to them. Another trick is to introduce new foodstuffs in combination with a child’s favourite dishes. The foundation for healthy eating patterns is laid during the first two to three years of a person’s life. During this time children learn by following the example of their parents and their older siblings. Their curiosity will be stirred if they see the whole family clearly enjoying a particular food and willing to try new dishes. Children love to help shopping and preparing the food for joint meals. It establishes a connection to food that over time will turn into the pleasure that comes with cooking, eating and enjoying food together. Of course, if none of this helps and concerns about the child’s development or weight remain, then it cannot be wrong to consult a paediatrician.


Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de