Foods for Picky Children

Eight ways to expand their culinary horizons

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Ever feel as if your daughter rejects more food than she actually eats? Tired of watching your son move food around his plate in an intricate vegetable shuffle? If your children suffer from picky-eater syndrome, here are eight ways to help broaden their culinary horizons.

1. Ask your child to try just one bite.
The threat of having to eat an entire portion of any food is daunting. Promise your child that all you require is a single taste. If, after trying a new food, she still insists that it's not going to be on her menu, you should accept that statement with a nod.

2. Reintroduce foods on a periodic basis. 
Many kids have to try a food several times before developing a taste for it. Continue to offer those quesadillas without forcing your child to eat them. Eventually, she might just acquire a taste for Mexican cuisine.

Menu to try:

3. Serve as a role model.
Let your children see you enjoy a wide variety of foods. Even if you don't push them to try it, they will see that sauteed broccoli or sweet potato fries can be delicious. Scheduling family meals helps kids watch the adults in their family enjoying lots of different types of foods.

4. Try foods in different forms.
Your daughter turns her nose up at potassium-rich bananas? Try a chilled fruit soup or a smoothie milkshake with bananas and yogurt. Often, foods that aren't so appealing in their natural state can take on a whole new appeal when "repackaged" to suit kids' tastes.

Recipes to try:

5. Don't allow kids to eat snacks right before meals.
If you want your picky eater to eat the dinner you've prepared, don't give in to requests for graham crackers and milk late in the afternoon. If kids are hungry, there's a far better chance that they will eat the baked chicken or hamburgers you place in front of them.

6. Use dinner as a special family-focus time.
Think of dinner as an opportunity for quality time rather than a chance to focus on the food your selective son eats. This way, there is less pressure on him to please you and more on sharing the details of his day.

7. Give your child a role in mealtime preparations.
Allow your daughter to help prepare dinner and your son to set the table — and let her help to choose the menu. If children have buy-in for the meal, there's a greater chance that they will eat it.

8. Become familiar with the amount of food your child really needs.
Often, we think our children require more than they truly do — and when they say that they're finished, they really are. Kids don't need to eat as much as adults — often, we should take our cues from them and stop eating when we feel full. Being aware of nutritional guidelines can help curb the need to push second helpings.

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