Two Words -- Picky Eater
Do you have a picky eater? So do tons of other parents. So what can we do about it especially now that the holiday season is right around the corner? Everyone should be eating healthy 90% of the time, but there is a 10% margin to let loose every now and then. While having a little fun with the holidays, here are a few tricks of the trade to cope with picky eaters.
1. Healthy snacks count. Although there will be plenty of candy, cookies and cakes around, encourage healthy snacks throughout the day and try to time them so that they are not served close to meal times. Keep those candy, cookies and cakes hidden but not completely locked up.
2. Limit juice, milk and fancy drinks. Juice fills up tummies and the kids do not feel hungry. Nevertheless, they end up whining that they are starving anywhere from one to two hours later -- and they really are. This is especially true of toddlers whose tummies are only as big as your hand made into a fist. While milk is good for kids, it can fill them up quicker than expected. Serving soda or a fancy holiday drink that contains caffeine? Don�t. It has nothing but empty calories and tons of sugar not to mention the hyper activity it can induce.
3. Serve small portions. Give children small portions of table food that the rest of the family is eating during mealtime. If they are not allergic to a food you are serving, encourage them to at least have a small taste. This is known as a "thank you" bite. Look at it this way, if they do not eat much, they will want more of Aunt Rachel's cake. Don't deny them of this treat everyday. Just make sure that the cake is cut into small pieces making it appear to be a larger serving than it really is.
4. Don�t use desserts as a reward. This can cause a dependency on sweets not to mention weight gain and bad eating expectations. This is why some parents offer sweets only on the weekends and in-between breakfast and lunch. Sounds weird? It's not. If you serve a dessert, it's better for a child to eat it way before dinner and bedtime. Think about it. Try serving natural applesauce or desserts cooked with applesauce and 100% juice for "sweet tooth" cravings.
5. Try to stay calm. Do not scream, holler or yell if your child does not eat what you think he should. Did you know that if you make meal time a stressful event that your child will associate it as a negative endeavor in the life of a family? What this does is make the child want to eat more or to sneak food when no one is around. It can also lead to anorexia, bulimic and other eating disorders. If you know your child is not going to eat much in one sitting but will need to eat more often, accept it and learn to live with it.
6. Have fun with shapes of the food. This will spark new interest. For example, shape sandwiches into sailboats and made the sails out of turkey or chicken. Always serve wheat bread and/or wheat rolls.
7. Make up a story. Try wheat crackers with tiny marshmallows and raisins smashed into the crackers on a yellow plate. Pretend to be Big Bird and peck the meal along with your child. Remember, kids live by Monkey See and Monkey Do rules.
8. Serve peanut butter on rice cakes. Rice cakes now come in all types of flavors. Find out which one your kids like the best and let them have a little peanut butter on it. Substitute another nutritious "spread" if he is allergic to peanut butter.
9. Shape the food with cookie cutters. Buy different shapes of cookie cutters to cut designs in cheese or cold cuts.
10. Get creative with the eating utensils. Try measuring spoons or chopsticks but always be on hand to supervise.
� 2004 Jodie Lynn
Jodie Lynn is an internationally syndicated parenting/family columnist. If you are a writer, check our her new Ebook, Syndication Secrets to see how you can make success happen! Her latest paperback book is Mommy-CEO: 5 Golden Rules, 2001 revised edition, Amazon.com: Books: Mommy-CEO: 5 Golden Rules. Check out my new Mommy, CEO totes, cups and T-shirts on the Parent to Parent website and order yours today. They are beautiful, practical and washable. Come on moms -- tell and show the world who you are!