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The Picky Eater

Tasty and healthy.
Tasty and healthy.

Parents of young children are often faced with the dilemma of how to get their child to eat. Or not to eat. When busy life styles have over exposed our children to the joy of junk food, fast food or just plain easy food, it is hard to get them on the healthy path to the right foods.
If you are just starting out, your job may be the easiest among your fellow parents of older children. Children who have gotten used to the 'easier food' are reluctant to ingest healthier options. To them it just doesn't taste good. And who can blame them?
Carbohydrates, salt and fats all affect the pleasure centers of the brain. Which explains why kids can't control themselves when there is a bag of chips, candy or can of pop near them. Yes they will even make the trip to the kitchen to obtain such goodies, or more appropriately baddies! The fast food industry barrages our kids with a toxic but very addictive mix of all three. Who can resist crispy hot fries smothered in ketchup?
Easier said than done, the best thing is to avoid these foods and introduce healthy snacks to your child at an early age. Yes there are actually children who will eat broccoli and if their parents can do it so can you. Steaming vegetables or even cooking them with a little chicken and blending it up to make your own baby food may seem a little daunting to some busy parents but it is more than worth it. And introduce everything to your child, it helps in developing their taste and appreciation.
For older children the best thing is to talk about it. And set a good example yourself. If your child sees you munching on unhealthy snacks you will have a hard time convincing them that they should be eating an apple instead. Involve them in planning healthy family meals (it is always best to eat together!) and use their "ideas" when writing out the grocery list.
Teenagers will be your hardest clients to sell to. You will have to hone your skills in the kitchen if you really care about bagging this deal. Providing them with a tasty and healthy snack so they won't resort to grabbing that can of pop and bag of chips is something you will have to take time out for. Fruit smoothies are a good bet. Cut up fruit and vegetables with a homemade dip packed in containers in the fridge will also make life easier. But make sure you have gotten rid of that stash of sugar and salt contained in very attractive packages so they aren't tempted to grab them.
Try out new recipes on the weekends when you have more time to spare in the kitchen. Mediterranean recipes are full of tomatoes, oregano and olives aka taste and health. Indian food incorporates beneficial spices like coriander and turmeric as well as garlic into every tasty concoction. So treat your fussy eater as the client you have to win over, your position as CEO of household health demands it of you.

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