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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.

        More by this author

        Ivan Dimitrijevic

        Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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        Last Updated on May 22, 2019

        10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

        10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

        There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

        One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

        In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

        Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

        1. Cat Camel Stretch

        Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

        Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

        Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

        Here’s a video to guide you through:

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        2. Go for a Walk or a Run

        This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

        Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

        The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

        Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

        Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

        3. Jumping Jacks

        Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

        Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

        4. Abductor Side Lifts

        Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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        Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

        5. Balancing Table Pose

        This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

        Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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          6. Leg Squats

          Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

          Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

          The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

          7. Push Ups

          You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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          An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

          Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

          This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

          8. Bicycle Crunches

          There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

          Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

          9. Lunges

          Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

          Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

          This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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          10. Bicep Curls

          You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

          Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

          Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

          Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

          Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

          These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

          You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

          Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

          More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

          Reference

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