Three Steps to a Healthy Eater

You can transform your picky eater into a healthy eater!

audrey-t-broccoli1.JPGIncorporate the following three easy steps to encourage healthy eating. Even picky eaters begin to appreciate the taste and texture of whole foods when you take the offensive.

1. Purchase Whole Foods
When you stock your pantry and refrigerator are with whole foods, your children will eat whole foods. One mom of a 14-month old recently asked me, “How do I stop her from eating junk foods.” The answer is simple, “Don’t buy them.” Unless your child has her own income and a driver’s license, she’s eating the foods you purchase.

Don’t believe the lie that some foods are “kid foods.” Fast foods, French fries, pizza, boxed macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, and the like are junk food. They offer little in the way of nutrition. Soda isn’t food at all…it’s colored High Fructose Corn Syrup (the worst kind of sugar). When these products are no longer stored in your pantry, your child will eat what’s available…whole foods.

Audrey is helping her mom serve dinner.

2. Have Family Mealtime
Today, many busy families eat together only three times a week. With just a little planning, you can change that statistic for your family. Initiate your supper with a prayer of thanksgiving. Take a few moments to acknowledge God and what He has provided.

When you make wholesome family meals and have real food in your home, your kids will eat whole foods. When you cook and eat vegetables during dinner, your kids will follow your example and grow up liking them. Your table should be a stress-free zone. Save discussions of the economic crisis, inflation, or the latest bad news for another time. Family mealtime discussions should center on each other and the good things God has provided.

3. Incorporate Multi-Sensory Learning
Good eaters naturally use all their senses. Picky eaters need to be taught how to incorporate all their senses during mealtimes. We usually plop a new food down and expect a child to eat it. It may take 10 or more times before a new food is accepted. Don’t pressure your child to eat something the first time she sees it. Incorporate all the senses before mealtimes by having your child help with preparing the meal. Then, during dinner continue to encourage multi-sensory learning by talking about the food. What color is it? What’s the texture like? What does it smell like? You engage all the senses when you talk about the food served, touch it and experience it by smelling and enjoying the flavor and texture.

Eating preferences often change. Parents should keep preparing a variety of healthful foods and putting them on the table, even if a child initially refuses to take a bite. It takes three weeks to develop a new habit and it may take 10 or more attempts when introducing a food. Don’t give up too soon. Keep the dialog around the table happy and the discussion of the food positive. Never announce you don’t like a certain vegetable (or allow anyone else for that matter). Auditory learning is vital; your child will certainly follow your lead. When children experience the attributes of a refused food, it’s more likely they’ll eat it.

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