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Canstar Community News
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This article was published 27/11/2017 (989 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Do you remember those times at the dinner table as a kid, pushing a vegetable you hated so much around your plate with a fork, secretly praying it would just disappear as your parents told you to eat it because it was good for you?
Parents just want what’s best for their children and that includes healthy and nutritious eating habits, but sometimes mealtime can be hard when dealing with a picky eater.
Lisa Zappitelli, health promoter and dietitian at NorWest Co-op Community Health, said there can be various reasons why a child can be picky with certain foods, because all children are different. She says that dislikes can be due to texture, taste, colour, or maybe just the way the food looks but the best thing a parent can do is to encourage a variety of healthy foods often and prepare them in different ways.
"Don’t give up if at first your child doesn’t like something. Sometimes it can take up to 15 tries," Zappitelli said.
Zappitelli said one of the biggest mistakes parents can make is to pressure children to eat certain foods, preparing separate meals, or rewarding their children for trying new foods.
"The end goal is to have encouraged your child enough to willingly eat healthy foods that maybe once they didn’t like but now have developed a taste for."
Mother-of-three Jenalyn Fong — who has an eight-year old and a set of two-year old twins — agrees that introducing new foods can be a struggle but says it’s definitely manageable, with patience.
"Sometimes when I introduce a new food, they don’t like it because it’s different. After a couple of weeks I try the same food again and sometimes they still won’t be too fond, but at least they get more exposure. After a while and depending what, they will even ask for it," Fong said.
Zappitelli said making little adjustments at the dinner table can also help in opening up your child to new and healthy foods.
Here are a few suggestions:
• Eat together when possible — you are your children’s best role model. Your children will eat better, get more exposure to new foods, and learn table manners if you set the example to follow;
• Keep mealtimes pleasant — your children will eat better when relaxed instead of upset;
• Remove all distractions — research shows that your child will eat better without the TV, phone, toys, games and the computer;
• Make one meal for the family, not separate meals. Your children will learn to eat a variety of foods;
• Avoid rewards, praise, pressure, or punishment — children don’t like to be pressured to eat.
• Try serving new foods in small amounts with foods your kids are familiar with.
• Never force your children to eat a certain food – they may just have an honest dislike, and that’s OK.
Nancy Heinrichs is the executive director for NorWest Co-op Community Health Centre. For any questions or comments, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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