Strategies for Raising Healthy Eaters
5. Expose, Expose, Expose
Ward says a child needs to be exposed to a new food between 10
and 15 times before he or she will accept it. But many parents give up long
before that, thinking their child just doesn't like it, she says. So even if
your child only plays with the strawberry on her plate, don't give up. One day
she just may surprise you by taking a bite. However, don't go overboard and try
to introduce three new foods at every meal, says Severe. Limit exposure to one
or two new foods a week.
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
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.