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Empower your kids

Picky eaters – “Is my child getting enough?”

Kids can be notoriously picky eaters, but there are plenty of ways you can ensure your children eat a well-rounded diet – and still keep peace at the dinner table.

Here are some ways to balance your child's nutrition and avoid endless food wars.

Review basic nutrition guidelines

Since good nutrition promotes optimal growth and development in children and helps reduce the risk of health problems, it can be helpful to take a look at Canada’s Food Guide’s dietary recommendations.

Nutritional guidelines

  • Offer a variety of foods from the four food groups
    • Fruit and veggies, grains, milk and meat (and their alternatives)
    • Don't restrict nutritious fats like avocado, peanut butter and 2% milk
  • Shoot for the recommended number of servings based on your child's age and gender
  • But don't become a slave to the chart. You can get the same benefits from smaller servings throughout the day to accommodate little tummies

Try these tips

  • Set a meal schedule – and stick to it:
    • Three meals and three snacks
    • If your child skips a meal or snack, the next one won't be too far away
    • Boundaries create a sense of safety
  • Limit high-calorie drinks
    • It's easier to be picky when you're full from too much soda, juice and milk
  • Create a pleasant dining atmosphere
    • Tension gets in the way of healthy eating, so make mealtimes as inviting as possible by providing a clean and bright environment
    • No arguing at the table – and definitely no TV
  • Respect your child
    • No one likes being forced to eat when they're not hungry
    • Bullying or punishing a lack of appetite or distaste for a certain food creates an association of mealtimes with anxiety
    • Bribery can intensify power struggles over food
  • Have fun
    • It's funny how sandwiches cut up into little soldiers with the crusts lopped off are so much more fun than regular ones
    • Get creative with veggies and toppings – broccoli and cheese go amazingly well together
    • Don't get stuck in a rut of certain foods at certain times – breakfast for dinner can be fun every once in a while
  • Get your child involved
    • If you're tired of hearing "No," ask your child to help you pick (healthy) foods at the grocery store
    • Engaging your child in food selection and preparation instills an investment in meals and can be a bonding experience
  • Be patient
    • Remember when you hated spinach? It can take a while to get used to new foods
    • Introduce new foods with ones you know your child loves
    • Let your child experiment with new foods – this includes having a bite and putting it back
  • Above all, be a good role model
    • Eat your own veggies and fruits
    • Practice conscious eating – no TV or newspapers at the table
    • Make family meals an occasion for bonding and catching up
Is my picky eater getting enough?
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