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How To Make Your Kids Less Picky And Eat Everything

How To Make Your Kids Less Picky And Eat Everything

Dealing with younger children is hard work and takes a lot of patience, especially when it comes to getting them to eat their food. When they flat out refuse to eat, you have a bit of a dilemma on your hands – you want them to have all the necessary nutrition so that they can grow and stay healthy, but on the other hand you don’t want force food down their throat if they aren’t hungry. In fact, having them eat a lot of food constantly is a fast lane to obesity and this is definitely not something that you want. You should definitely avoid:

  • Giving your kids sugary snacks in between meals
  • Letting your kids drink a lot of juice/soda right before a meal
  • Using food as a reward or bargaining chip
  • Developing an association between food and emotions
  • Letting your child’s temper tantrums go unpunished

These habits can be detrimental to developing a healthy diet and your child will be stuck eating only junk food. If you are looking to develop some good habits that will make your kids less picky, then read on.

1. Stay firm and dissuade aggressive behavior like temper tantrums

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girl-crying

    Temper tantrums and emotional eating should be discouraged and the parents should assert themselves as an authority figure. Keeping a calm demeanor and using a deep and somewhat louder tone of voice coupled with an appropriate punishment – e.g. escorting the child to their room and cutting off TV, phone and computer privileges – can help you out a lot. Children often use emotional outburst to get their way. Don’t issue empty threats and don’t argue with them, but do not allow them to get so worked up that they start breaking things, crying and screaming. Nip it in the bud and escort them to their room the moment they start acting up.

    2. Run a tight meal schedule

    Three solid meals a day and a couple of small snacks here and there will get the job done, just make sure that both you and the children know that the family eats at a certain time. The kids can run around and play between meals, but don’t give them any food until a set meal time. This way they actually get hungry and are ready to devour almost anything that you offer them. Making your kids less picky is pretty easy when they want to eat something quick.

    3. Everyone eats the same thing

    Unless you are dealing with babies and very small toddlers you don’t need to put them on a specialized diet. You make the food and the whole family sits down to eat it – equality for all. This includes snacks, so instead of buying a bunch of soda you can make milkshakes or slushies with fresh fruit. You can use different spices to liven up some tasteless foods or to mask tastes that your child might not be so fond of, but make sure that they don’t have a go-to meal that they can grab out of the fridge if they don’t want to eat what you’ve cooked.

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    4. Keep switching up meals frequently

    diverse food

      If your child has a couple of favorite meals and has a really tough time adjusting to new foods, it means that you offer some foods with higher frequency than other foods. Don’t let your child get used to any particular type of food or a particular meal – offer a different set of meals every day and rotate your weekly schedule. You may have some mashed potatoes, a salad and fried chicken on Monday, but don’t repeat that formula until next week and even then, avoid putting it on the same day so that the kids don’t fall into a pattern. Have them choose between 2-3 predetermined meals for breakfast or dinner a couple of times a week just to give them a little wiggle room now and again.

      5. Offer a lot of veggies with every meal

      The problem with picky kids is that they have a lot of choice when it comes to food and this gives them a lot of wiggle room to try and bargain with you or even argue. Add to this the fact that a lot of parents don’t really know how to be assertive and end up either succumbing to the child’s pleas or, even worse, arguing with the child as if were an adult, and you can get quite a mess. You can avoid this by having a 60/40 percent vegetable to other foods ratio on the plate, staying calm and sticking to your guns. The child can choose between eating what’s on the table or staying hungry until the next meal. Believe me, a strict but fair parental figure and an empty belly can quickly melt away all the irrational aversions one might have for certain foods.

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      6. Your kids have to try everything, at least a single bite

      Kids are very reluctant to try out new food, even if they see you eating it. It can take well over 10 tries to get them accustomed to a new taste, so start out slow and build up. My grandmother had an excellent strategy to get me to eat new food: she’d explain that it’s seeing and smelling the food that gives it a particular feel and that I had to close my eyes and close my nose with the fingers of my left hand while I took a bite or two of the food. You really don’t taste much this way and once you realize it’s not so bad you can gradually begin eating a few bites of it with your eyes open. During the next few times your child tries the new food, the taste will grow on them.

      7. Offer an assortment of fruits and nuts as snacks

      Big snacks between meals should generally be avoided so as not to spoil a child’s appetite, but small snacks such as an apple and a handful of walnuts or a couple of oranges and some almonds are a great way of providing your child with carbs, various vitamins and good fats, while keeping the overall calories at a reasonable level. They get a bit of fuel for their busy little bodies, but they still have plenty of room for lunch. Just make sure there are no sugary snacks around and that you eat the same healthy snacks – the simplest way to make your kids less picky about snacks is to give them this choice: they can either have the fruit and nuts or they can wait for the next big meal, no discussion.

      8. Combine different foods in one big family meal

      If your child is pretty reluctant to eat certain foods – it’s usually things like carrots, garlic, broccoli and spinach – you can chop these foods up into tiny pieces and use them in a more complex dish or make a puree that you can serve with the main course. It’s also good to have several food choices on the table – that way each separate portion is relatively small and the child can combine the ingredients on their plate, choosing a portion size that they feel comfortable with.

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      9. Let your child help you out in the kitchen

      Stock Photo

        Making the child feel like an integral part of the family instead of a little dictator is very important. They need to know that you are not there for their amusement and to satisfy their every whim, but that they are expected to contribute as well. This helps in several ways – it can raise your child’s self-respect, tire them out and make them hungry and familiarize them with the cooking process so that they feel less reluctant to try new things.

        10. Encourage good dinner table manners

        Sit up straight, elbows off the table, no talking with your mouth full, hold your knife and fork properly, be polite when asking for something, wait until everyone sits at the table before you start eating, chew your food slowly and brush your teeth afterwards – these are all great rules that turn eating into somewhat of a ceremony. Simple everyday rules no longer apply and the atmosphere is a bit more formal when the family sits down at the dinner table. This makes it easier to get the kids to behave as they shift into serious mode – well, as serious as they can ever get.

        11. Set a good example for your child

        Your child looks up to you and will try to emulate everything you do. By making them eat something that you clearly don’t like eating yourself and give them an apple for dessert while you eat doughnuts isn’t really fair. Try to eat a lot of vegetables with your meals, eat fruit instead of snacks and drink mainly water, tea and milk around meals if you want your kids to get into some of these good eating habits.

        Follow these tips and you will make your kids less picky and well-behaved at the dinner table in no time. The trick is to be consistent, patient and, above all, to be firm and assertive.

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        Ivan Dimitrijevic

        SEO Consultant

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        Published on November 14, 2018

        Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

        Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

        With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

        For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

        In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

        Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

        Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

        It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

        For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

        Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

        Symptoms of Fatigue

        Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

        • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
        • mental blocks
        • lack of motivation
        • headache
        • dizziness
        • muscle weakness
        • slowed reflexes and responses
        • impaired decision-making and judgement
        • moodiness, such as irritability
        • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
        • reduced immune system function
        • blurry vision
        • short-term memory problems
        • poor concentration
        • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

        Causes of Fatigue

        The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

        • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
        • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
        • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
        • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

        Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

        Medical Causes of Fatigue

        If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

        Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

        Anemia

        Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

        Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

        There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

        Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

        Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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        This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

        Diabetes

        Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

        Sleep Apnea

        Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

        Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

        Thyroid disease

        An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

        Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

        • Lack of sleep
        • Too much sleep 
        • Alcohol and drugs 
        • Sleep disturbances 
        • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
        • Poor diet 

        Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

        • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
        • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
        • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
        • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

        Psychological Causes of Fatigue

        Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

        • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
        • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
        • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

        How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

        Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

        1. Tell The Truth

        Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

        To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

        Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

        The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

        One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

        • How you feel
        • What time of day it is
        • What may have contributed to your fatigue
        • How your mind and body reacts

        This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

        2. Reduce Your Commitments

        When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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        If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

        When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

        Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

        3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

        If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

        Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

        If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

        Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

        Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

        4. Express More Gratitude

        Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

        It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

        Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

        5. Focus On Yourself

        Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

        There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

        But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

        We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

        6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

        Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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        Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

        The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

        Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

        7. Take a Power Nap

        When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

        Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

        This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

        8. Take More Exercise

        The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

        Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

        The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

        You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

        9. Get More Quality Sleep

        To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

        Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

        My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

        10. Improve Your Diet

        Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

        Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

        On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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        To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

        Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

        Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

        11. Manage Your Stress Levels

        Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

        When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

        Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

        My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

        12. Get Hydrated

        Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

        Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

        If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

        The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

        The Bottom Line

        These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

        If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

        Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
        [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
        [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
        [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
        [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
        [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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