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When children just won't eat

By Gerry O August 04, 2005

Pleasing children is anything but easy! Any parent can attest to that. Children seem to prefer everything that is not good for them. Food affects the way children grow, so it is important to give them a balanced diet. This does not mean every meal has to be balanced, just that over each day the foods should add up to be balanced. If fruits and vegetables are missing from lunch, try to make up for it in the afternoon with a light snack of vegetables or fruit pieces.

Young children should not be put on a diet, unless you have been advised to do so by a physician or a Child specialist. All the food groups are essential for growth and development. A childhood spent eating junk food is not healthy and will contain far too much fat. Home cooked food will be far more nutritious and healthy.

When introducing new food, don't be disheartened if your child do not take to it readily. Try again a few days later. Remember that with children, things that are hated one day, can be firm favorites by the following week. Sweet food should never be used as rewards of bribes, as this gives them added value in your child's mind.

Children tend to know how much to eat. They eat when they are hungry and until they are full, without having to be forced. Children appetites also fluctuate, depending on whether they gong through a period of slow or rapid growth. Overweight children tend to be that way, because they are offered too much food. Give small servings and allow for second helpings, so no one is daunted by the food.

Snacks must be instant and accessible, as well as healthy, otherwise it is easier to open a packet of crisps or biscuits. Try to make fruits always available. Some ideas are nuts, carrots, dried fruits, cucumber sticks, yogurt, fresh fruit jellies, etc.

 

Drinks can be high in sugar. Water, fresh juices, fruit milkshakes, whips and cordials are much better than carbonated soft drinks. Add soda water to fruit juices for a healthier fizzy drink and freeze ice-cube trays of orange and lemon juice to add to drinks.

Meat and poultry are often served up to children as fillets and pieces rather then meat on a bone. Children more often like cutlets and chops, chicken drumsticks and wings. Ready-cooked barbeque chickens are useful for sandwiches, tortillas, enchiladas, paste dishes and home-made pizzas. Kebabs are fun, but take them off the skewers before giving to very young children.

Fish is often seen as tricky to cook, but this need not be the case. Choose very fresh firm-flesh white fish that does not have bones, cod for example. The ever popular fish-and-chip does not have to be a greasy affair - fish fillets can be dipped in flour then lightly fried and served with baked potato wedges, tomato ketchup or tartare sauce. Children often enjoy seafood, especially shrimps and calamari rings.

Carbohydrates should form the biggest part of most meals. Potatoes are and excellent source of carbohydrates and can be cooked in many different ways. A seemingly plain boiled potato can be transformed into a delicious mash in a matter of seconds and may well be more acceptable in this form. A good repertoire of mash recipes can be useful - mix with green veggies for bubble and squeak, with potato and pumpkin for a change of color, or serve with lots of gravy.

Vegetables are often the most hated foodstuff of children and the hardest to make sure they eat. If they prefer vegetables raw, then do not try to cook them. It can be easier to persuade children to eat carrot sticks while watching TV than to eat cooked vegetables with their dinner.

Dairy products are very important for children's calcium intake, as well as providing a good source of protein. Children's calcium requirements are high and is recommended that a daily intake of at least three serves of high calcium food ( milk or cheese ) be undertaken. If using soy milk, make sure it has added calcium.

Pulses and grains can be a great way of getting protein into your child's diet if he of she is not a great meat-eater. They are also a good source of fiber.

Last, but certainly not least, a healthy child needs plenty of exercise. About twenty to thirty minutes, three or four times a week is recommended, but the more the better. Exercise is more enjoyable as a family affair, and that way everyone will benefit.

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