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Picky Eaters

picky-eatersI understand that this is a broad topic and there are so-o-o many obstacles that parents face at many stages in their child’s life. Below I touch on a few of the key problem areas and realistic solutions that will have a large impact on your child’s future.

For the Picky Eaters:
Wow, this is a tough area! I understand that most children are born with this trait and that they may physically have more sensitive taste buds which results in strong tastes, especially vegetables. But don’t give up – there is still a lot that you can do.
1. Keep offering a variety of healthy foods and it is important that they try at least a bite each time. For my family, it is a house rule that my kids eat 2 bites of all foods on their plate. Since it is a house rule, there is no room for negotiation and their attitude is much better. Your child’s preferences will continually change. They may hate peas one week and enjoy them the next week.
2. Do not give in and prepare more processed foods just for your picky eater. This will create an unhealthy cycle that may last their lifetime. Strive to consistently serve healthy choices at every meal. If they don’t like their choices, they may refuse to eat but I bet they will make up for it at their next meal or the next day.
3. I have successfully snuck in vegetables in many recipes, like spinach in brownies (no one knew). I like the recipe book, Deceptively Delicious.

For Children with Food Allergies:
Food allergies and sensitivities are becoming more common these days. There are many theories why, but I won’t dive into that now. The most common food allergies/intolerances are peanuts, dairy, gluten, eggs, and soy.
1. Use the KISS method – keep it simple stupid. When making a balanced meal, piece together healthy food basics that fit into their plan. In my workbook, Nutrition Simplified, I have designed many simple meal and snack ideas that are free of gluten, dairy and soy. My published workbook is available on my website and amazon.
2. There are tons of great recipes available – my favorite book is The Kid-Friendly Food Allergy Cookbook: More Than 150 Recipes That Are Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Egg-Free, and Low in Sugar.

For the Busy Parents:
Most busy parents lack the time and energy to food shop and prepare healthy meals on a consistent basis. This dilemma coupled with any of the problem areas already listed above usually leads to frustrating meal times and an unhealthy family lifestyle.
1. I have already designed a Planning Ahead Guide to give parents lots of prep ideas that only take about an hour of your time every week. Along with my Planning Ahead Guide, my workbook, Nutrition Simplified also has healthy food shopping lists from Trader Joes & Whole Foods, Kitchen/Pantry list, Eating Out Guide and meal & snack ideas that should help simplify your life.
2. Eating out may be inevitable for some families, so at least order from restaurants that utilize natural ingredients. Do your homework by asking questions like: Do you use hydrogenated oils? Do you use local, organic produce? Is your meat hormone and antibiotic free? Gather menus from approved restaurants only so you and your children will have healthier choices. Check out our favorite healthy Santa Barbara restaurants.

Other Tips & Ideas:
1. Be a good role model for your children. I guarantee that they will be more likely to improve their habits if they see you improving yours on a consistent basis.
2. Educate your child about food’s health benefits and include them when preparing and cooking meals. Depending on the age, these activities can help with motor skills, counting, measuring, following direction, and cleaning up.
3. If your child/teen is old enough, let them cook one healthy meal a week.
4. If your town has a Farmer’s Market, bring your child and have fun. Try lots of samples and ask questions about all the unique produce.

Since most children are not eating perfectly (eating 5 small meals filled with organic produce and fatty fish), I always recommend 2 key supplements for all children.
1. Quality Multi-vitamin and mineral supplement not filled with sugar
Liquid Multi for children under 2
Chewable Multi for children over 2
Multi in capsule form for teenagers and adults
2. High potency Omega-3 fish oil
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for pregnant moms, babies, and children for proper brain and nervous system development. In food consumption surveys, 85% of all pregnant women and children are deficient in the essential omega 3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA).
Liquid Essential Fatty Acids for children under 2
Chewable fish oil mini-gels for children over 2 (strawberry flavor)
Fish oil softgels for teenagers and adults

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