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How to get your child to eat

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Your question:

My son is a very picky eater. He does not eat bread or peanut butter and jelly. He won’t eat most meats. Packing his lunch is no fun. It’s chicken nuggets or chicken soup. I need ideas for lunches that do not need to be heated, per his daycare. He lives on chicken nuggets and yogurt and cereal. The only veggies he eats is carrots, and that is very rarely.


You are in good company. Just about every child goes through the picky eater stage and just about every parent worries their child will be malnourished.
Relax. A recent study out of Finland looked at 500 picky five year olds and found their diets were not that different than kids described as “good eaters.”

The picky eaters ate a little less fiber and calcium. The biggest difference was when the picky eaters ate most of their calories-at snack time. So, take advantage of those rare moments when your child actually feels like eating something and make it nutritious.

Another take home message: Kids are more likely to try new foods when they have participated in the preparation (help in the kitchen) or even the production of it (try a family garden). And, offering a new food several times in a row without pressure (or reward) is more likely to lead to acceptance of a new food.

As for what to do when your child needs to bring a cold lunch to school, here are some tips;

Sources of protein:

  • Peanut butter, mixed nuts, Nutella spread
  • Soybeans (edamame)
  • Egg salad
  • Boiled egg
  • Chicken salad
  • Hummus
  • Rice pudding (made with eggs)
    Sneaky sources of vegetables:
  • V-8 Splash (made of carrot juice)
  • Pumpkin butter (found in the jelly section)
  • Veggie lasagna
  • Carrot and cream cheese rollups (in tortillas)

    Other cold food items:

  • Potato pancakes dipped in apple sauce
  • Granola and yogurt
  • Chilled fruit soup (essentially a smoothie)
  • Anything dipped in ranch dressing (broccoli, carrots..)
  • Make your own pizza (crackers, shredded cheese, pepperoni)
    Remember, you can only set up the right environment for good nutrition. Let your child decide whether or not to eat and how much.
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