• – By Jacklyn Fernandez

Tips to curb bad habits in picky eaters


You may not satisfy their every craving, but you’re not supposed to.

You may not always give them what they “want” or what they “prefer” to eat, but you’re not supposed to either.

It may take you some time to grow their eating repertoire. And that’s OK. Pat yourself on the back for trying.

Dump the junk. Clean your cupboards of the chips, cookies and candy – especially after Halloween, Easter and Valentine’s Day! Out of sight, out of mind.

  • Reward good eating habits and good behaviour with a “special day” instead of with a sugary treat. It can be an afternoon at the book store, a game night, colouring night. Kids naturally want your attention, not your candy.

  • Learn to say NO at the store. This has to be answered immediately after the asking – don’t think about it. And then stick to it, always. Instead, ask children to help you gather apples, or find a magazine they’d like to read. Notice how easily they get distracted from the nasty treats.

  • Curb after-meal dessert cravings. After eating a meal, tell children they will have to wait one hour for a snack. Put the timer on. Make it a game. They will probably forget they asked for dessert anyway.

  • Provide an accessible “snack cupboard” and a fridge section that children can always go into between meals. Fill it with healthy treats such as apple sauces, pickles, special fruit they like, etc. (Realize snacking is not a bad thing, but a very natural necessity when you grow 3” per year!)

  • When cooking something new, give small children some of it along with something you know they’ll eat. Remember there’s nothing mean about telling them to try it.

  • Don’t be afraid to tell your children why they shouldn’t be eating junk food. Remember, you’re the parent, not the restaurant.

  • Plan a free-for-all day – once per week only. Make Fridays a movie night, have some chips and a special ice cream treat. But ban it the rest of the week. You will slowly begin to notice how they don’t crave junk food anymore, but how they look forward to the togetherness of that special eve.

  • Stick to water. Realize that drinking is for necessity, not for nutrition. You’ll not only save hundreds per year by not spending on sugar-loaded sodas and juices, but also by not damaging teeth and delicate bowel flora.

  • Must give them a treat? Don’t provide the whole bag of M&M’s or Skittles, but instead count one of each colour and save the rest.

  • Above all, remember you’re the boss, the manager, the chef, and their most important teacher. Their nutritional education is up to you. Make it count.

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Jacklyn Fernandez is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and regular columnist for Silver and Gold Magazine.

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