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Saturday, May 11, 2013

How To Break Your Kids Bad Eating Habits

 “Bad habits” encompasses several different types of behavior—including poor manners, poor nutrition, and over or under eating. Some habits are just that—habits. You can help your children work through these habits in a variety of ways, and some will be easier to break than others. Following are a few common problems, and some commonsense solutions:

1.Table manner troubles: From talking with a mouthful to eating with their fingers, kid’s table habits can make you cringe. There are a few things you can do to help work through these issues. First, make sure you are modeling the behavior you want to see in your child. If the rule is “don’t talk with your mouth full”, then don’t talk with your mouth full. Kids learn what they see—so be sure that “bad habit” isn’t just a miniature version of something you do yourself! Another great way to help younger children is to play “restaurant” for a day, and act as the waiter, chef, and manners coach. Chances are, this role playing will bring out the best manners, and provide you with a valuable teaching opportunity.
2.Eating only junk food: There are two ways to cut down on the junk. First, simply don’t buy it, or don’t buy as much of it. Once you limit the supply, you automatically cut down on the amount of junk your kids can consume. Next, offer healthy, but tasty alternatives. Kids that are plowing through a bag of chips in one setting may enjoy something else with crunch, like whole grain pretzels. Don’t be afraid to be sneaky—there are several books available that detail how to sneak healthy foods into appealing snacks that mimic “junkfood”.
3.Eating only a single food or food group: This is most often a problem with the toddler set—they can get hooked on one particular food or food group. With any luck, they will outgrow the fixation—eating only cheese for a day or so won’t hurt them—but eating only cheese for a few weeks could. If you can, determine what appeals to them about the item they are focused on. It could be temperature, taste, texture, or some other quality. A child who wants to eat bananas all day may be craving something sweet—or something that is easy to chew. Offering substitutions and other choices at each meal can help break the pattern.
4.Avoiding vegetables: Fear of broccoli isn’t just for kids—most adults don’t eat enough veggies either! Make sure you are offering vegetable choices at each meal—and make them appealing. A plate of grey, limp green beans isn’t going to appeal to anyone—but a green bean casserole can disappear pretty quickly in most homes. You can also consider making a “one bite” rule—as in everyone needs to take just one bite of everything offered. Doing this can help your child learn to like a variety of foods, and still give them the choice of declining if it is something they truly don’t like.
Some eating habits are easy to change—and some are more challenging. Toddlers and young children can be passionate about something one day, and completely forget it the next. Offering a variety of healthy foods, and eating seated at the table can help eliminate many of the bad eating habits you may be observing, and help your child be a healthy, hearty eater for life.

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