President's Prescription: Picky eaters

President's Prescription: Picky eaters

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Getting your child to eat his or her fruits and vegetables — or anything besides chicken nuggets — can sometimes be a challenge. This week, Dr. Tedd L. Mitchell tells us how to avoid struggles at the dinner table.

Mealtime can often be a struggle for parents of "picky eaters." In fact, the Journal of Pediatrics estimates 25 percent of typically developing children will demonstrate characteristics of a feeding disorder.

Good nutrition in childhood is essential for optimal growth, as well as preventing obesity, dental problems, iron deficiency, and osteoporosis later in life. However, even if your child isn't a natural-born foodie, most kids still manage to keep a good nutritional balance. 
Here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic that may help ease anxiety at the table:

  • If your child isn't hungry, don't force a meal or snack.
  • Serve small portions to avoid overwhelming your child.
  • Serve meals and snacks at about the same time every day.
  • Only offer water between meals and snacks to avoid your child filling up on juice or milk.
  • Serve a variety of brightly colored foods, and offer new foods along with your child’s favorites.
  • Ask your child to help you select fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods at the grocery store.
  • Encourage your child to help you make breakfast, lunch or dinner. Kids are more likely to eat a meal they helped prepare.

Remember: the best thing you can do to encourage your child to eat a balanced diet is to lead by example. If you eat a variety of healthy foods, your child is more likely to follow suit.

Most children outgrow food aversions by age 4 or 5. If you're concerned that picky eating is affecting your child's development, talk to your pediatrician. For maintaining good health, I'm Dr. Tedd Mitchell.

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