Why is it that my child refuses to eat anything green?
She probably insists on dressing herself and opposes going to bed on time for the same reason: she can. Some children go through several stages of picky eating, but the earliest and most common comes around the time they begin to say no when they are toddlers. Your child may simply be telling you that she’s her own person, thank you very much, and she doesn’t need you to tell her what to eat the next time she scrunches up her face, clenches her jaw, and pushes her peas away.
Alternatively, she could have a genuine dislike for vegetables: She’s starting to develop tastes and dislikes, and you can guarantee she’ll utilize her newly acquired capacity to communicate herself. She can now afford to be selective. She didn’t know where or when her next meal would come from as an infant, so she ate anything that was handed to her. She now has a better memory and understands that if she doesn’t eat right now, you will feed her later. She is also aware that the pantry contains other items. Consider this: If she can skip the vegetables now because she knows she’ll get cookies or crackers later, why not? This stage will eventually pass, and your child’s palate will likely broaden to include at least a few veggies. Meanwhile, supplement with chewable multivitamins and fruits such as apricots, cantaloupes, mangoes, plums, prunes, and watermelon for vitamin A, and grapefruit, oranges, and strawberries for vitamin C.
How can I keep power struggles at mealtimes to a minimum?
When tensions rise at the dinner table, everyone loses their appetite for meals with the family. Keep it light — the environment, not necessarily the meal — to ensure a pleasurable experience for all. Allow your youngster to help you in the kitchen by tearing lettuce for salads or preparing the table. Play a word game or make up crazy rhymes during meals. Rather than eating, focus on enjoying one another’s company.
Also, try to serve at least one thing that you know your child will eat at each meal. That way, she’ll eat something, and you won’t be tempted to bribe, coax, or otherwise persuade her to eat, all of which are guaranteed to backfire.
If your child, like many others, is averse to change, stick to her routine: arrange the table with her favorite placemat, slice her sandwiches to perfection, or whatever she prefers.
What can I do to ensure that my child eats a balanced diet?
Prepare a surprise attack. If your child refuses to eat carrots because they are difficult to chew, grated carrots can be added to her favorite muffin recipe. This method works for a variety of foods: Toss-sliced zucchini into scrambled eggs, fresh fruit into yogurt smoothies, and spinach into macaroni and cheese, a kid favorite. Guacamole, low-fat salad dressings, yogurt, or peanut butter are all good dips for vegetables.
Keep sweets to a minimum because they weaken the appetite for all the excellent things, especially fruit juice, which is just sugar and water. Also, don’t let your child drink too much milk; if she drinks more than 2 or 3 cups each day, she won’t be hungry for anything else. Rest certain that if you serve a variety of healthy foods, your child will consume what her body requires.
Is it true that “try-it” bites are effective?
“How can you say you don’t like something if you won’t even try it?” Your logic may make sense to you, but it will be completely meaningless to your child.
Linda Sugimura, a registered dietician at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California, states, “Kids are food phobic.” “They may need to see a new food up to 20 times before tasting it.”
You can ask your youngster to try a bite of anything new, but don’t force it if it becomes a fight of wills. Also, don’t assume that just because your child won’t take even one taste of a new meal, she won’t eventually try it and enjoy it. Simply keep providing it with a grin on your face.
The Complete Food & Nutrition Guide by Roberta Larson Duyuff, MS, RD, CFCS, is published by the American Dietetic Association. Chronimed Publishing is a publishing house based in the United Kingdom.
Good Food That’s Good for You: Nutrition at Every Age, American Medical Association
Nutritional Needs of School-Age Children, American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Heart Association is a non-profit organization that promotes heart health. Recommendations for a Healthy Child’s Diet.