Teach - Don't Preach - About Good Eating
Every parent has dealt with difficult dinner antics, food jags, and meal standoffs. Your child is not unusual. Gaining control over when they eat and what they eat is part of the natural separation process in a child's desire for autonomy. The situation can escalate, if you let it. Stay calm and hold on to your sense of humor, for this too, shall pass.
Encourage but don't force your child to try new foods. Children often need to be exposed to a food many times before they'll eat it. (Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN , Food and Nutrition Columnist - HealthNewsDigest.com)
Don't worry about how little your child eats. If growth is normal, he's eating enough. Overeating is never a good habit; there is no virtue in belonging to the clean plate club.
Don't classify foods as "good-for-you" or bad-for-you;" all foods eaten in moderation, even sweets and treats are fine.
Don't use food as a pacifier, reward or punishment; this puts an emotional value on food that will be hard to break and can set the stage for poor eating behaviors in the future.
Teach your child to eat a colorful plate. This automatically offers a selection of foods with a selection of different nutrients.
Eating and activity go hand-in-hand; the earlier this becomes a habit the less likely your child will grow into a "couch potato."
Make whole grains, vegetables and fruits the foundation of your child's diet. These foods are naturally high in vitamins, minerals, fiber and health-promoting phytochemicals, and low in fat.
Teach children that foods with a face – animal foods – should be eaten in moderation. These foods are higher in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Demonstrate the ‘napkin test' – place French fries, fried chicken or a doughnut on a napkin and watch the grease ring grow. High fat foods should be eaten "less often."
Keep portions small; small stomachs need small servings offered frequently. Let your child ask for more rather than encouraging her to eat too much.
Plan dessert as part of the meal and don't withhold it if your child eats very little. But, offer only one small serving of dessert. Don't make ice cream the food you get after you eat your spinach.
A sweet treat every so often, is just fun. Withholding foods or being too strict about sweets gives them too much attention and makes them more desirable. We all want what we can't have.
Instead of forbidding, offer reasonable amounts – a chocolate kiss instead of chocolate bar or a handful of chips instead of a bagful.
Children learn by example; make good eating a family affair.