It takes patience when dealing with your child's ever-changing eating habits.
"Why I Like What I Like"
"Mom, I know you want me to eat more healthy foods, like vegetables, but it's really hard to try new things. I'm afraid that I will be hungry later if you give me something I don't like. And sometimes vegetables make my tongue feel funny. I really like the food that I like, and it's OK with me if I eat it every day."
Keep in mind that patience really is a virtue when it comes to kids' eating habits. Research shows most kids have to see something about 15 times before they'll even try it. Many kids often pass on healthy foods because they're not involved in selecting or preparing them. If they help, they're more likely to at least sample their efforts. Don't label favorite snack foods "forbidden"; just buy them occasionally, not weekly. Pushing foods on kids, punishing non-vegetable-eaters or bribing your kids with dessert will only make them less likely to make healthy choices.
TRICKS OF THE TRADE FOR HEALTHY EATING
As difficult as it might seem, nutritionists say it is possible to get kids to eat foods that are good for them. Here's how to get started:
- Offer milk or water at meals. Save soda for special occasions.
- Have fruits and vegetables cut up and ready to eat. "Children are NOT going to go to the effort of washing and cutting them up for themselves," says Mara Vitolins, assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at Wake Forest University.
- Don't use food as a reward. If your kids come home with good report cards, celebrate at the local bookstore by buying them a book of their choice instead of going out for ice cream.
- Let each child help plan and cook one healthy meal each week. Kids are more likely to eat what they've picked and prepared.
- Studies also show that kids follow their parents' lead. "Don't buy junk food, even for yourself," recommends Dr. Vitolins. "What's on your shelf is what the kids are going to eat too."
SICK-DAY IDEAS TO FEEL BETTER FAST
Being stuck on the couch with a cold or the flu can be a real downer for kids. An art project perfectly suited for sitting up in bed can add a little sunshine to an otherwise dull day.
- Gather a handful of empty, rinsed-out NESTLÉ'S® JUICY JUICE® boxes.
- Use safety scissors to shape the boxes into cargo cars for a train. Cutting off the tops of the boxes will let you add cars lugging small dolls or tiny cars to the caravan. Tape or use glue sticks to adorn the boxes with assorted animals cut from magazines or drawn on sheets of construction paper.
- Use colorful glitter-glue sticks to add accents. Pierce tiny holes in the front and back of each car and string them together with yarn. You now have a circus parade to pull across the bed covers and display on a windowsill when your child is back up and running.