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Front Page » April 23, 2009 » Focus » Healthy tips for parents of a picky eater
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Healthy tips for parents of a picky eater


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If kids had their druthers, most would love to eat candy for breakfast, candy for lunch and pizza for dinner, with candy for dessert. Fortunately, parents typically don't leave it up to the kids to choose the menu.

But just because Mom and Dad choose the menu, that doesn't mean son or daughter have to like it. In fact, as any parent can attest, kids are often picky about what they eat, and that can be problematic for parents. Getting kids to eat healthily is not only beneficial for kids' growth and present health, but good for their futures as well. Studies have shown that kids who eat healthy foods as children are likely to carry those positive eating habits with them into adulthood. While turning a picky eater into less of a problem isn't always easy, the following tips should ease the transition from a picky eater into a more cooperative one.

• Provide healthy snacks. Parents can often control what their kids eat at breakfast and dinner, and even lunch to a lesser extent. However, it's when children snack that they develop some of their worst eating habits. Fruits and vegetables, low- or non-fat yogurt and even some low-fat cheeses are far healthier alternatives than traditional snacks that are heavy in sugar.

Instead of sodas, keep fresh fruit juices stocked in the refrigerator. Snacks and juices should be easily accessible to kids.

• Incorporate exercise into your family's routine. It's no secret adults and children alike should make time each day for exercise. Parents concerned about their child's picky or unhealthy eating habits might be able to combat those habits by incorporating daily exercise into the family routine. For example, a nightly post-dinner walk around the neighborhood will discourage anyone from overeating. And once kids grow accustomed to exercising each day, they're more likely to realize they feel better when that exercise is coupled with a healthy diet.

• Parents can set the best example. Kids, particularly younger children, learn most of their behaviors from Mom and Dad. Kids won't be inclined to drink a healthy fruit drink if they see Mom or Dad reach for a soda when they're thirsty. However, if Mom or Dad reaches for a healthy choice when they're thirsty kids will likely follow suit. The same goes for food. A child is not going to embrace eating vegetables if Mom or Dad never eat any veggies themselves. When it comes to kids and healthy eating habits, the best example a kid can have is seeing Mom or Dad making healthy choices.

• Don't be too strict. Kids aren't going to eat the best foods all the time, and the occasional soda or candy bar isn't going to be too harmful. Choose when and where to allow kids the occasional treat they wouldn't otherwise get to eat. If you're too strict, you run the risk of kids going overboard on unhealthy foods and beverages once you're out of sight, be it at the school cafeteria or when the babysitter comes over.

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