How to make fussy eaters fall in line?

June 28th, 2011 - 10:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, June 28 (IANS) Fussy eaters are more likely to fall in line when they see others tucking in a healthy meal.

Most small children go through a phase of being picky about food. But setting up good habits from an early age will help parents to tackle this difficult patch, said Cathryn Conlon, a nutrition scientist at the Massey University.

The first step for parents is to realise that food fussiness around the age of 18 months and lasting up to a year is a normal part of development when children start to assert their independence.

Encouraging good eating habits through family meals is a powerful way for a young child to develop a positive attitude, Conlon says, according to a Massey University statement.

While this may not always be practical if a toddler eats earlier than the rest of the family, just having one other person sit and eat with them, or occasionally having family meals earlier to include the toddler, can help.

Conlon says teaching children about new foods is another key.

“When you’re presenting a young child with a new food, it can be frightening for them,” she says.

She says some children reject certain foods because they don’t like the texture. But refusing mashed potato doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy baked, roasted or sauteed spuds.

Rewarding vegetable eating with a bowl of ice cream, and other forms of food bribery is not a tactic Conlon endorses.

“It teaches children to ignore their body cues around hunger, and also you might end up having to give them ice cream after every meal when that’s not necessarily ideal,” she says.

Eating while watching TV is also not recommended because it distracts the child from normal hunger cues, which can result in overeating.

The types of food one eats in front of the television are also often less healthy, she says.

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