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If nutrition is a sore topic in your household, you are not alone. Almost 50% of parents identify their pre-schoolers as picky eaters.
A great part of nurturing, of course, involves food and the role it plays in the life of a healthy thriving child. However, getting your picky eater to try new food can be an uphill battle where the victor is never you, right? Yup, the struggle is real! So, chicken nuggets for the rest of your family’s days then?!
There’s good news: Some of the behaviours typically displayed by picky eaters, like refusing new foods and only wanting to eat their favourite food, are normal, and for most kids, a passing phase. In fact, research suggests that with time and repeated exposure - and without pressure – most kids will accept new foods.
Remember Mom and Dad, it’s the rare child that eats anything and everything. Truth is, most kids find some foods unpalatable. Keep in mind that at the end of the day, we all have food habits and preferences, as long as we have an overall healthy diet.
Here’s the thing, its okay if your child doesn’t like vegetables; but, what’s not okay is for a parent to become so invested in a child’s eating habits that every meal becomes a source of dread for the whole family. Adam Strauss, M.D., paediatrician in Westwood and Mansfield, offers a word of caution: “When parents demand that their kids eat certain foods, they’re attaching negative connotations to it. Pretty soon, the struggle is worse.”
So, until your child understands the importance of a balanced diet, here’s what you could do:
- Chill, chill and chill again. Lose the guilt. Think of the food intake over a week rather than a day; look at intake and variety in that way.
- Break from bribes. This can make the “prize” food even more exciting.
- Take him/her with to the grocery store. Ask your child to help you to select one fruit or vegetable to add to accepted dishes. Make sure there’s always something familiar on the plate.
- Enlist a sous-chef. Research shows that kids who are involved in preparing meals are more likely to subsequently eat the food that they help to prepare.
- Use tasty toppings and dips. Serve broccoli with melted cheese and top green beans with bacon.
- Rebrand food. Studies show that pre-schoolers ate twice as many carrots when they were called “X-ray vision carrots”. Also, try “power peas” and “broccoli trees”. Turn zucchini into noodles – “zoodles”.
- Respect your child’s appetite. Serve small portions; give him/her the opportunity to independently ask for more.
- Cut foods into shapes with a cookie cutter - anything mini is always a hit! Or, skewer it; it’s always fun to eat something off a stick.
- Try serving raw veg, they might love the crunch.
- Limit snacks and juices.
- Don’t be a short-order cook. Don’t prepare a second meal after he/she rejects the first. This will promote picky eating.
- Never give up. Keep serving healthy choices until they become familiar and preferred.
- Allow treats. Having less healthy foods occasionally helps them from becoming forbidden.
- Aim to inspire. Lead by example, eat healthy.
So, if you’re the Mama (or Dad) of a picky eater, be patient. You won’t change you’re little one’s eating habits overnight, but the small steps you take each day can promote a lifetime of healthy eating.
Source: mayoclinic.org, blog.landofnod.com, magiccrate.in,momadvice.com, cupofjo.com, webmd.com, babycenter.com, parenting.com, childmind.org, netmums.com, blog.mint.com, familyfoodllc.com, arktherapeutic.com, isliplibrary.org, parents.com, mindovermunch.com, todaysparent.com, unlockfood.ca, whatmomslove.com
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.