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Archive for July, 2012

Welcome to HealthStart’s new Start Smart blog!  You can come here for tips, ideas, and other resources on how to get you and your family to be more healthy.  Feel free to send us questions or comments.  We’d love to hear from you.

Probably one of the most common concerns we hear from parents are regarding their picky eater.  How do I get my son to try something new?  How can I get my daughter to eat more vegetables?

The keys to a child’s more varied diet are the two P’s: patience and persistence.  Young children are just developing their flavor palettes and some kids need to try things multiple times before they develop a taste for it.

Think about your own food preferences.  I know when I was a child I didn’t like fish, but as I grew I developed a taste for fish like tilapia and mahi-mahi.  Now as an adult, I eat tuna for lunch at least once a week and sushi is one of my favorite foods.

If I had said no more fish after my first taste, and never tried it again, of course I’d say I didn’t like fish, though it might have just been I didn’t like the way it was prepared or I didn’t like that type of fish.

Parents must be both patient and persistent with their children.  If you can convince your child to just try it once before saying anything, that might be all it takes for them to like it—but sometimes it takes more than one try.  Mikey didn’t like the steamed broccoli, even after trying it.  This means we say okay, Mikey didn’t like steamed broccoli.  Next time, we’ll put the broccoli in the pasta.  If that doesn’t work, maybe we’ll try it raw with some dipping sauce.

As an adult, you don’t eat foods prepared one way anyways.  At a local restaurant, they have a dessert that features corn served in ten different ways—corn sorbet, popcorn, polenta custard, a cookie, and more.  Let your child try all the different ways of eating a new food before you let them say no, or just let them try it the first way twice.  Maybe Mikey didn’t like steamed broccoli that day but next month he’ll start to develop a taste for it.

It’s not the easy to get a picky kid to try new foods, but if you’re patient and persistent, you might find yourself with a child who craves carrots and celery instead of chicken nuggets and French fries.

Supplemental Readings:

http://parenting.kaboose.com/behavior/issues/nurture-picky-eater.html

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon

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