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Mealtime has been a struggle for parents from all walks of life for many years. No one wants to fight with their child or force him to eat. No one wants to see their child go hungry either. It is a great concern to many parents when their children go through stages where they will only attempt to eat a handful of foods. It is especially worrisome to those of us who value good nutrition and wish to see our children adopt a healthy lifestyle later on in life. Before you start to pull your hair out, take these tips into consideration.
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Ban Bad Foods
Children are more likely to choose unhealthy options when they are presented with them. Parents should consider this when exploring their options. The best idea is to ban undesirable foods from entering the house. It can still be a problem for parents whose children attend daycare, however, if their daycare provider is feeding the child junk food in their absence. It is up to you as a parent to make sure that your rules are followed. Tell the person who watches your children how important your dietary choices are. If you find out that they are not following your wishes then it's time to find another daycare.
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Give the Child a Say
If a child feels that they don't have a choice it may also be a struggle. Early on in life human beings begin to show their independence. A toddler does so by refusing to be held after she can walk. A preschooler who pushes away a plate may simply need to be given a choice between two different, equally healthy foods. And don't worry -- if this is the case, the rejected food can always be presented again at a later date.
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Stealth for Good Health
There are many ways of disguising veggies and other healthy foods your preschooler would otherwise shun. One way is by blending them with foods that mask their flavor and offer a more appetizing sight for young eyes. A young child may not eat zuchini if you fry it up in a pan but may love zuchini bread. Turnips and other lightly colored vegies can be cut into the shape of french fries and lightly salted or otherwise seasoned -- sprinkle them with olive oil and bake them in the oven instead of frying them for the most healthy result.
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Use your Judgement
In the end there is not only one right way to do it. Every child is unique and every parent equally so. There are as many different ideas on the subject as there are different types of people. As a parent, you know your child and their circumstances best. Use your best judgement to discern which ideas are likely to work and which ones might fall flat. If all else fails, take comfort in the fact that the picky eater stage rarely lasts. If you continue to set the example and eat healthily yourself, you may find that your child will follow suit when they grow older.