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How to Correct Your Child’s Bad Eating Habits

Some of our kids will refuse to eat their veggies. What is it about those green things anyway? Some of them will only eat mac and cheese and hotdogs. What are hotdogs even made out of? And still others will fill up on candy and sweets before dinner. Why do we keep letting them do that?

We keep on kicking ourselves for letting these habits continue but we’re so stumped about how to break them that it seems like an impossible feat. The good news is – there are solutions, you just have to be willing to stick with them.

How to get them to eat their veggies

  • Try a topping – Adding a topping, such as shredded cheese, to the veggies may make the veggies taste delicious to our child. Broccoli and cheddar cheese, cauliflower au gratin, or baked asparagus with parmesan are all great ways to make those veggies irresistible!
  • Add a dip – Your child may not like the veggies by themselves but with their favorite dip, such as ketchup or ranch dressing, it’s a game changer.
  • Get creative – Allow your children to help you make an appetizer tray full of veggies and arranged in any way they want. Include some hummus on the side so they can enjoy the fun and flavor of dipping!

How to keep them from snacking throughout the day

When your child is nibbling nonstop on unhealthy snacks throughout the day, it means they won’t be hungry come mealtime. To get them to break this unhealthy habit, try the following.

  • Set a snacking schedule – It’s recommended to serve two to three snacks daily, and all around the same time; for instance, midmorning, midafternoon, and bedtime (optional). Children will thrive with this structure because their hunger will become more regulated and predictable.
  • Prepare snacks ahead of time – When you set aside time to prepare your child’s snacks for the day, you will have time to think about making the snacks healthier and more filling. Snacks that are high in protein tend to keep kids satisfied longer. For example, you can try healthy combinations like bananas and peanut butter or apple slices in yogurt.
  • Get rid of or hide the junk food – When your child sees the junk food on display in the kitchen, that’s the first thing they will ask for or try to grab when they get hungry for a snack. Keep these foods hidden or get rid of them altogether – out of sight, out of mind. Rearrange your refrigerator or pantry to have the healthy stuff in the front, so that’s the first thing they will see when they open it.

How to stop them from eating too much sweet stuff

  • Limit their intake – It’s not practical to make a child quit eating sweets cold turkey, but it is feasible to limit their intake to once or twice a day. Because they’re not going to like this policy at first, its important to give them some choice in the matter. For example, you can ask them, “Would you like to have a chocolate muffin now or two small chocolate squares after dinner?”
  • Make replacements – Not all sweet treats have to be unhealthy! You can find healthy sweets such as fruits and yogurt or bananas sprinkled with cinnamon. Cereals and fruit snacks that are high in sugar can be replaced with low-sugar versions that they will grow to love just as much.

How to get them to try new foods

  • Repeated daily exposure – Even if your child initially rejects the food, researchers have found that it takes between 10 to 15 exposures for a child to like the new food. So stick with it even if they don’t like it at first!
  • Offer non-food rewards – It’s important for us to offer praise when our children try new foods, but we should have a neutral stance if they decide not to eat it. You may also choose to offer a small physical reward such as stickers when your child accepts a new food.
  • Be a role model – You can’t expect your child to eat a food that you’re not eating yourself. Always eat the same food as your child when you introduce something new. Research has shown that children who have parents that model healthy eating habits tend to be less “picky.”

Eating at Parker-Chase

At Parker-Chase Preschool, we know that healthy students are happier students! We provide our students with daily chef-prepared meals and nutritional snacks. All of our meals are prepared with fresh produce and ingredients. With a different theme each week, our menu is diverse and gets children excited about eating!

 

 

Preschool Parenting 101: How to handle a picky eater

Picky eating is normal during the toddler and preschool years. Luckily, it is typically a phase that will pass! There are many creative ways of handling a picky eater. Below are some tips to help you deal with your picky eater in a positive way, while maintaining a balanced and healthy diet.

Put your goals into perspective:

Oftentimes your child’s rejection of food has less to do with the food itself, and more to do with underlying developmental advances. For example, your child’s refusal to eat what you put on her plate may not be because she doesn’t like the food, but really because she is exercising her newfound independence as she enters the preschool age. She may feel that you are taking that independence away by forcing her to eat the foods you serve. If your goal is to get your child to eat his food, then you should try putting that goal into the perspective of how your independent little one may respond at mealtime.

A good way to do this is by giving her some control over the menu. For example, you could have a make-your-own-taco night and lay out all the ingredients on the table – corn tortillas, flour tortillas, ground beef, rice, beans, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, diced avocados, onions – and have her pick and choose what fillings she wants in her burrito. Your child will be able to exercise her independence in this situation, and will be more willing to eat what’s on her plate if she was the one who made it!

Be a role model:

It’s important to have meals together as a family so your toddler can see you, your partner, or older siblings, eating a variety of foods like champs. By exposing your little one to family mealtime, they can see what mealtime is supposed to look like. Serve the same food that you are eating to your toddler, and encourage him to eat a few bites of it.

Try foods in different forms:

Sometimes what your child might not like about the food isn’t the taste at all, but rather the texture. If your child doesn’t like a certain food, try serving it in a different form. For instance, your child may not like cooked peas, but you could find out he loves eating frozen peas right out of the bag after steaming! You can try serving raw veggies if your child doesn’t like them cooked and vice versa. You could even puree the food and serve it in this form first to get your child used to the taste first, before serving it in its whole form and natural texture.

Eating at Parker-Chase Preschool

At Parker-Chase Preschool, we strive to create a healthy learning environment that is also appealing to our students. For children to reach their full learning potential, we believe that they should be consuming a healthy diet on a regular basis. That is why we have an onsite chef providing delicious and nutritious meals served family style for the children to enjoy!