Parents know there are two kinds of children -- adventurous eaters and picky eaters. How do you get solid nutrition into a child who's a picky eater? It's not easy! Our America Now pediatrician has some practical tips to help solve the problem.
"You have to offer something 10 times before it's fully rejected. It's infuriating advice, but it's true. After time number 10, actually the majority of kids will go, 'huh, not so bad.' The data shows it takes 10 tries," says Dr. Cara Natterson.
She has some key strategies for parents with picky eaters.
"The first and most important, is don't battle with your child, because no good can come of that," says Dr. Natterson. "Number two is, as soon as you can, introduce the concept of variety. What I mean by variety is that the plate should have different colors. So if you have macaroni, it comes with peas. And it just gets mixed in. Number three, don't feed your kids differently than you feed yourself."
These are easier said than done, especially when you eat out.
"Children's restaurant menus infuriate me," says Dr. Natterson. "I get so upset, because I look at our children today and I look at the increasing level of obesity and then I read what they're offered on a children's menu and it makes me want to pull my hair out."
Dr. Natterson recommends ordering from the adult menu and splitting the entree among two or three kids. She also suggests capitalizing on your child's hunger.
"Our routine when we go out to dinner is that we sit down and we order an appetizer for the kids, which is a steamed vegetable of some sort. So it might be peas, it might be green beans, it might be broccoli. And when everyone's salad or starter comes, that's what they get. And they're starving, and other people are eating, and they're thrilled and they gobble it up," says Dr. Natterson.
She also believes in educating your kids at the dinner table.
"I sit there and I teach them what's on their plate," she says. "And I say to them, 'Now which thing that you just ate will make your bones grow? And which thing will make your muscles grow?' The most important thing when you have an older, more independent child, is to make them in charge of it."
Dr. Natterson suggests getting the kids involved with the cooking - like making do-it-yourself veggie kabobs. And as a last resort, there are all kinds of ways to hide the veggies in other foods.
"You can make smoothies that are delicious and have lots of anti-oxidant rich fruits," says Dr. Natterson. "You can put butternut squash into a pasta sauce. You can put anything into a muffin. You can put zucchini into a muffin and kids actually love the taste of zucchini muffins."
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