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Two Words: Picky Eater
10 Tips for Picky Eaters During the Holidays
By Jodie Lynn

Do you have a picky eater? So do tons of other parents. So what can we do about it especially now that Halloween is right around the corner and kicks off the holiday season? Everyone should be eating healthy 90% of the time, but there is a 10% margin to let loose every now and then. While having a little fun with the holidays, here are a few tricks of the trade to cope with picky eaters.

1. Healthy snacks count. Although there will be plenty of candy, cookies and cakes around, encourage healthy snacks throughout the day and
try to time them so that they are not served close to meal times. Keep those candy, cookies and cakes hidden but not completely locked up.

2. Limit juice, milk and fancy drinks. Juice fills up tummies and the kids do not feel hungry. Nevertheless, they end up whining that they are starving anywhere from one to two hours later -- and they really are. This is especially true of toddlers whose tummies are only as big as your hand made into a fist. While milk is good for kids, it can fill them up quicker than
expected. Serving soda or a fancy holiday drink that contains caffeine? Don't. It has nothing but empty calories and tons of sugar not to mention the hyper activity it can induce.

3. Serve small portions. Give children small portions of table food that the rest of the family is eating during mealtime. If they are not allergic to a food you are serving, encourage them to at least have a small taste. This is known as a "thank you" bite. Look at it this way, if they do not eat much, they will want more of Aunt Rachel's cake. Don't deny them of this treat everyday. Just make sure that the cake is cut into small pieces making it appear to be a larger serving than it really is.

4. Don't use desserts as a reward. This can cause a dependency on sweets
not to mention weight gain and bad eating expectations. This is why some parents offer sweets only on the weekends and in-between breakfast and lunch. Sounds weird? It's not. If you serve a dessert, it's better for a child to eat it way before dinner and bedtime. Think about it. Try serving natural applesauce or desserts cooked with applesauce and 100% juice for "sweet tooth" cravings.

5. Try to stay calm. Do not scream, holler or yell if your child does not
eat what you think he should. Did you know that if you make meal time a
stressful event that your child will associate it as a negative endeavor
in the life of a family? What this does is make the child want to eat more or to sneak food when no one is around. It can also lead to anorexia, bulimic and other eating disorders. If you know your child is not going to eat much in one sitting but will need to eat more often, accept it and learn to live with it.

6. Have fun with shapes of the food. This will spark new interest. For
example, shape sandwiches into sailboats and made the sails out of turkey
or chicken. Always serve wheat bread and/or wheat rolls.

7. Make up a story. Try wheat crackers with tiny marshmallows and raisins
smashed into the crackers on a yellow plate. Pretend to be Big Bird and
peck the meal along with your child. Remember, kids live by Monkey See and Monkey Do rules.

8. Serve peanut butter on rice cakes. Rice cakes now come in all types of
flavors. Find out which one your kids like the best and let them have a
little peanut butter on it. Substitute another nutritious "spread" if he
is allergic to peanut butter.

9. Shape the food with cookie cutters. Buy different shapes of cookie
cutters to cut designs in cheese or cold cuts.

10. Get creative with the eating utensils. Try measuring spoons or
chopsticks but always be on hand to supervise.

©2004 Jodie Lynn
Jodie Lynn is an internationally syndicated parenting/family columnist. Her newspaper column, Parent to Parent, will celebrate its eighth year in February 2004. She is the author of Mommy-CEO, revised edition, available at: http://www.amazon.com and CEO/Founder of www.parenttoparent.com. She has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment as well as other TV appearances along with multiple radio interviews. Lynn's has contributed to two others books, "The Entrepreneurial Parent," Penguin Putnam, (featured on Oprah in June 2002) and "Why Aren't You Your Own Boss: Leaping Over the Obstacles That Stand Between You and Your Dream," by Paul an Sarah Edwards and Peter Economy, Prima Publisher, March 2003 (imprint of Random House). She and her family live in St. Louis, MO.

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