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March 19, 2012 at 1:59 PMComments: 2 Faves: 0

10 Tricks To Get Your Picky Eater Eating

By Sue More Blogs by This Author

As a mother, I know that getting your children to eat a healthy diet can be challenging. I have two adult daughters who were incredibly willful and stubborn during their growing years.

Daughter 1 would hide her food on the support slats under our kitchen table. (Which I discovered years later when we moved to a new home and chunks of petrified meat rolled out on to the floor!)

Daughter 2 would use the stare-down technique. She would stare at her plate for upwards of an hour hoping that her telepathic powers would make the food disappear.

Kids can be amazingly strong-willed and inventive when it comes to eating what they want and not eating what they don't. Here are a few tips I found that seemed to work for my own picky eaters.

#1. Let THEM choose.

It’s amazing how much more receptive kids can be when they pick out the food. Take them to the farmers market or grocery store and only shop in the produce, meats and dairy aisles. Let them decide what veggies and meats to buy. If you give them only healthy choices they will have to choose something healthy.

#2. Let THEM cook.

Having a kid in the kitchen may sound messy and possibly tricky, however, I will tell you a kid that cooks is a kid that eats!

#3. Grow your own.

The process of growing your own can be educational as well as exciting. Many kids love to eat what they grow and feel a personal investment in the process.

#4. Make it a game.

The clean plate club went over well at my home. I’d tell my daughters if they cleaned their plates they would become a member of my club and receive rewards such as a treat at the end of the week, like frozen yogurt.

#5. Limit offerings.

If you don’t have chips and cookies in the house they won’t eat them. Offer snacks that are healthy and easy for them to help themselves to. Once they get used to these healthy alternatives they will start craving them.

#6. Dip it.

Get some low fat dressings, salsa or dips and have fruits and veggies cut for dipping. Something about carrots and ranch can make all the difference.

#7. Practice what you preach.

A parent that eats healthy is more likely to have children that eat healthy. Always eat healthy foods while in front of them. My mother didn’t always do this however. For years my siblings and I knew about her secret chocolate stash.

#8. Puree.

The texture of many foods is what often turns kids off. I found that pureeing some of those foods could disguise it and at the same time make the texture more palatable. An example would be my "Green Monster" soup. Little did my youngest know, she was eating one her most deplored foods, asparagus.

#9. Creative marketing.

Make up fun names for your foods or shape them into interesting animals or characters. Bagel beast were a favorite of my girls. This is nothing more than whole wheat bagels spread with low fat cream cheese and topped with a variety of veggies to look like a lion or happy face. (see recipe)

#10. Don’t give in!

I’ve never heard of child that went to bed without eating dinner and, consequently, never woke up in the morning. As mothers we often feel it’s our duty to feed our children and never let them to go to bed hungry. There is some sort of maternal instinct to feed no matter what. Thus we give in and serve another nutrition free bowl of mac’n cheese or chicken nuggets. Once you give in, your child will learn that stubbornness pays off. My suggestion is let them feel a little hunger. I’ll bet the next day they’ll eat those carrot sticks with a new found zest!

Fun and Healthy Recipes for Kids

Here are some easy healthy recipes to make with your little ones. You’ll be amazed at what a little involvement can do. Bon Appetit!

Photo Credit: Wendy Copley

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  • Great article, Sue! It's so important to empower parents in this age-old struggle. Put healthy food in front of the kids-- they won't starve to death!

  • Here, hear! Thanks so much for the great ideas on how to really help parents struggling with this challenge. Totally with you making sure the the snacks and food at home is of the healthy variety. Not to give in and buy food junk, aka, candy, etc. over healthy snacks! Making it fun is important and letting kids help where they can! Thanks!!!

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