Is your child refusing to try new foods, or to return to familiar ones that they once enjoyed? You may have a picky eater on your hands!
Young children can become particular about the foods they will eat for a number of reasons. But don’t despair – these sudden preferences will often go away over time.
Though reforming the habits of your picky eater may seem difficult, I urge parents to make small, simple changes that will encourage long term health benefits. Here are five ways you can help prevent childhood obesity while making mealtimes a little easier:
- Get physical. Physical activity is important for children of all ages. Experts recommend kids get 60 minutes of moderate physical activity a few days a week. Hiking, biking, swimming, and gardening as a family are great ways to be sure your child gets enough exercise.
- Skip the sugary drinks. Sugar is everywhere, and it can be difficult to determine from food labels if sugars are natural or added. Encourage your kids to drink water rather than sugar-heavy sodas, juices, or sports drinks.
- Keep your fridge healthy. Stock your kitchen with healthy snacks and drinks, like whole-grain crackers, fresh fruit and vegetables, string cheese, and low-sugar yogurt. Certain breakfast cereals can also sub in for an easy, healthful snack!
- Eat dinner as a family. Time spent together at the dinner table is an opportunity to eat more nutritiously and foster deeper connections. Family dinners also give parents the opportunity to model healthy eating habits for their children.
- Be a role model. Set a good example for your kids by eating healthfully, being open to trying new foods and exercising regularly. Finding ways to involve children in the planning or preparation of a meal is another way to get them excited about eating will also teach them good habits that will last a lifetime.
Just remember: the sooner that parents begin implementing healthier food habits, the more likely that several health complications will be prevented further down the road. And if you are still worried about your child’s diet, your pediatric care team can help answer questions and provide advice.
Need a pediatrician? Find a doctor and easily schedule your child’s next appointment online at Ochsner.org