Picky Eaters

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Friday, March 11, 2011 - 9:08am

How do you feed a picky eater?

Jaimie Davis, a professor at the USC Childhood Obesity Research Center, a registered dietitian and most importantly, a mom, says her 3-year-old son was a picky eater.

Parker refused to eat his broccoli, but not anymore.

Davis used a variety of strategies to help curb picky eating. Here are some of her top tips:

1. Don't give up.
- Research shows, Davis says, that a child needs to try a new food seven to 14 times before developing a taste preference for it. She says introduce the food for seven straight days and "you'll see your child learn to start to like it. It'll be normal for them."

2. Make it taste good.
- "Don't buy wilted stuff or canned stuff," said Davis. "Buy fresh in-season fruits and veggies. They're going to taste sweet, very yummy."

3. Combine veggies with their favorite foods.
- "Children like quesadillas. They like cheese and bread," says Davis. So add some veggies to those quesadillas, says Davis. Same goes for pizza or any other favorites.

4. Make mealtime fun. Eat together as a family and play games.
- "You want to make it a fun pleasant environment for them and not something that they have to do," said Davis.

5. Plant a garden with your kids
- This was the tip, says Davis, that got Parker to eat his broccoli. "When he harvests them from the garden, it's extremely powerful. The fact that once he grows something, he gets to eat it, and it's something he enjoys," said Davis.

Remember, says Davis, being persistent doesn't mean forcing kids to eat.

Instead use encouragement.

Making it fun, and getting them involved is key.
 

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