Healthy eating habits in childhood are the cornerstone to establishing good nutrition later on in life. However, many parents often find that their children are “picky eaters”, and that it’s seemingly hopeless to convince them to eat healthy diets – a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and other foods that deliver the nutrients they need. 

The Dietitians of Canada group has released a helpful guide for parents with picky children. Based on a three-step template – Spot the Problem, Get the Facts, Seek Support – it allows anyone who is interested in better nutrition to simply put in their problem and get a solution that they can bring to the table that evening.

Here are some of the tips they offer:

  • Mealtime jobs! Parents and children have different mealtime jobs. Parents decide what, when, and where; kids choose from the foods offered, and how much of it to eat. Since children take their nutritional cues from their parents, they tend to mimic positive behaviour that they see modeled in the environment – keeping everyone accountable for their food choices.
  • Patience. Children’s appetites are just as variable as those of adults, depending on fatigue, activity level, growth, and many other factors. They are not always picky – they’re just people!
  • Get your kids involved. When children help shop for, prep, and cook food, they become much more interested in how it all tastes at the end.
  • Keep trying. If at first you don’t succeed… try try again! Research shows that it can take about a dozen tries before a child learns to like a new food.
  • Set up a regime. Sometimes, a child may not be eating because they are simply not hungry. Don’t force them to eat if this is the case, but offer three meals and two to three snacks through the day (at regular times) so that they know when to expect to eat.

Remember, if you feel like you’re dealing with a picky eater – you’re not alone! Up to 35% of toddlers and preschoolers are described as picky eaters by their parents.  If you suspect that the problems goes beyond mere pickiness, dietitians are qualified to handle all your questions, whether they are about weight management, eating disorders, or solving mealtime problems.

Want to learn more about nutrition?

  • Book a consultation with one of our registered dietitians at INLIV.
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