Enhance your child’s interest in eating

To enhance your child’s interest in eating, consider these nine strategies:

1. Involve children in meal preparation: The sooner kids take an active role in helping to make meals, the more they begin to accept new foods and the less picky they are. Kids as young as two to three can be involved by scrubbing potatoes, tearing lettuce for a salad, arranging vegetables on a platter, shaping cookies or stirring the pancake batter. Older children can cut up vegetables, shape burger patties or set the table. Involvement helps build a child’s self-esteem.

2. Allow kids to serve themselves at the table: Don’t dictate what foods the kids must have. If all they choose to put on their plate is bread, don’t worry. The less of an ordeal that is made, the better. How do you like it when someone dishes out what you should eat?

3. School-age children should pack their own lunch: If not the whole thing, at least get the children involved in packing part of the lunch. This way they are more likely to eat it and not throw it out or bring it home untouched. Suggest they include foods from at least three if not all four of the food groups and perhaps a treat if desired. Letting them pack their own lunch may take more patience, but it’s worth it if they actually eat the lunch.

4. Eat meals at the table with the television turned off: The fewer distractions at mealtime, the better. When your children are finished eating, they can either excuse themselves or help with the cleanup.

5. Save uneaten meals for a snack later: Everyone will eat just about anything if they are hungry enough. If your child refuses to eat at mealtimes but comes back an hour afterward saying she’s hungry, offer the dinner leftovers as the only choice.

6. Limit after-school snacking: Usually kids are famished after school so allow them to snack. Just set a limit on the amount they eat so they don’t displace their appetite for dinner. After school, when kids are ravenous, may be the best time for them to eat vegetables or other foods they’re least likely to get the rest of the day. Try offering a vegetable platter with dip.

7. Limit the junk food stocked in the house: It’s often simply a case of out of sight, out of mind. If the kids know there is no junk food to snack on, that usually leaves healthier options like fruit or vegetables.

8. Don’t run a restaurant: If you have prepared a healthy meal but your child refuses to eat it, don’t feel obliged to provide other options.

9. Don’t expect kids to eat what you won’t:

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