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Strategies for Raising Healthy Eaters

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6. Don't Bribe

Avoid using sweets as a bribe to get kids to eat something else, says Pawel. Doing so can send the message that doing the right thing should involve an external reward. The real reward of sound nutrition is a healthy body, not a chocolate cupcake.

7. Beware of Over-Snacking

Sometimes the problem isn't that the child doesn't like new foods, but that they are already full, says Ward. "Kids can consume a lot of their calories as milk and juice."

The same goes for snacks that provide little more than calories, such as chips, sweets, and sodas. "If you are going to offer snacks, make sure they are supplementing meals, not sabotaging them," she says.

8. Establish Bottom-Line Limits

Having a set of bottom-line limits can help a parent provide some consistency, says Pawel. For example, some parents may require that kids eat nutritious foods before snack food. Or that they must at least try a new food before rejecting it.

"Consistency only works if what you are doing in the first place is reasonable," she says. So try to avoid overly controlling or overly permissive rules. If bottom-line limits are healthy, effective, and balanced, they'll pay off.

9. Examine Your Role Model

Make sure you aren't asking kids to "do as I say, not as I do," says Pawel. If your own diet is based mainly on fat, sugar, and salt, you can hardly expect your child to embrace a dinner salad over fries.

10. Defuse Mealtimes

Don't make your child's eating habits part of the mealtime discussion, says Ward. Otherwise every meal becomes a stressful event, centered on what the child does and does not eat. Ward suggests parents reserve talks about the importance of good eating for later, perhaps at bed time or story time.

11. Give It Time

"I find that children become much more open to trying new foods after the age of 5," says Ward. "Most of the time, kids will simply grow out of limited eating."

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How to Get Your Child to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Picky Eaters
Eat Right for Energy
Quick and Healthy Eating Tips
Low-Fat Meals

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