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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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It often starts off quite harmlessly – your child will only eat pasta, a favourite yoghurt or sweets. They turn up their noses at healthy foods like vegetables and fruit. The children won’t sit still at the table and only toy with their food. The more parents press their children to eat healthy food, the more the children resist. Instead of happy, harmonious family get-togethers, mealtimes become a long drawn out tussle of wills.

It’s often the beginning of real problems for the family.

Vitamins and nutrients

Most children go through phases of eating only certain foods. This is a perfectly normal part of a child’s development and as long as the child is bright and active, there’s no need to worry. Be patient and let your children decide whether they want to eat certain foods and how much they’re going to eat. Keep on offering a variety of healthy foods and most important set a good example by making healthy choices yourself. You can smuggle in vitamins and minerals via juices, homemade smoothies and mineral water

What can you do when your children refuse to eat at all or only under protest?

Even when it’s really difficult, parents should try their best to stay calm. Threats, pressure, and punishments will only make an eating problem worse. Children often learn attitudes and behaviour by watching other children, so inviting friends and their children to cook and eat together can encourage your children to eat well. Reward systems have proved helpful: for example, draw space for ten smiley faces and add one whenever your child eats a trial amount of a new dish. Once the ten spaces are full the child has earned a previously agreed reward, such as an outing with a picnic, an afternoon at the swimming pool or a special reading evening.

When underweight is a health risk
Pronounced underweight threatens a child’s health when the child is not developing at a normal pace, if it shows stunted growth or is frequently ill. Parents should have their child’s development checked regularly by a paediatrician, who will be able to eliminate other possible causes such as allergies or metabolic problems. If you feel your child’s eating problem is putting stress on family life, it might help to consult an advice centre or a developmental psychologist.

Source: Claudia Thienel, www.aid.de