Wave the white flag.
Believe it or not, your children may actually know what’s best for them when it comes to eating. Small children usually only eat when they are hungry, so forcing them to eat or clear their plates may actually reinforce some bad eating habits and emphasize eating as a point of conflict. “Allow children to stop eating when they are full,” says Chester County mother of two and Registered Dietitian Kim Knipe*. “If my children tell me they are full after just a few bites, I let them help me wrap up the remainder for a snack later. That way, I know they stopped because they are truly full, and not because they want ice cream or a cookie.”
Encourage healthy options.
When your kids are hungry, encourage healthy options and alternatives to the usual sugary, fatty snacks. Kids love eating finger foods, so offer apple slices to dip in peanut butter or homemade pita pizzas with fresh veggies, mozzarella and marinara. You could also make a fruit smoothie using fresh and frozen fruits with a little milk or 100% fruit juice. If you don’t have a lot of time to prepare a snack, make a healthy, storable trail mix out of nuts, dried fruit, seeds and Cheerios.
Play with food.
It is proven that repeated exposure to sights, smells and tastes can increase our fondness for a particular item. By letting your child discover their food – through their five senses – before forcing them to eat an entire plateful, you may actually find they offer less resistance. You can also apply this same theory to how you prepare meals. By sneaking chopped fruits and veggies into a dish, your child will unknowingly be exposed to them.
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