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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Healthy eating is necessary to sustain human life. As adults, we know this, and we try to teach this to our kids. But kids, as we all know, are drawn to unhealthy foods–they’re just more honest about the temptation than adults often are. Some kids may be finicky, or have specific dietary needs. No matter what the situation, though, here are some tips to keep your child’s diet well-rounded.

Make Food Fun

Yes, food is fuel, but it’s also meant to be fun, and fun can be injected into every meal. Whether that means making your own version of restaurant cuisine (Italian, Chinese, Mexican), cutting sandwiches into shapes, or constructing ants on a log, make food pleasant. Include your kids in cooking, at age-appropriate levels and have them pick out the ingredients from time to time.

Dress it Up

Many kids eschew vegetables, fruits, or other foods that taste strong or bitter. Don’t be afraid to make them friendlier with cheese or sauces, or by mixing favorites in with unfamiliar foods. For example, add bits of lean ham or sausage to your vegetable-heavy casseroles.

Think Outside the Box

If your kid absolutely hates beans and peas, even after being plied with them several times, don’t force the issue. Offer something new, like peppers, onions, or kale. It could be your kid is drawn to more exotic flavors. Remember, too, that some kids are particularly sensitive to certain tastes and smells. You may want to consult a family doctor in Winter Haven to find out if your kid is a “super-taster”.

Loosen Up

Children who are forbidden from eating sweets or fast food, or whose parents are overly health-conscious, may grow up to rebel, or develop eating disorders. Make a commitment with your family that certain days each week will be days for desserts, and stick to that. Or designate a weekend night as takeout night, and have one family member a week choose the fare.

Silence “Fat Talk”

Moms may get the flak for this, but dads can be guilty of complaining about their weight, too. Even if you are overweight, avoid talking about calories, pounds, and other diet issues around your kids. Even young children absorb their parents’ worries, and calorie-counting should not be one of them.

For many families, the dinner table often becomes less a place to break bread than a battleground. However, this doesn’t have to happen to your family. With these tips, everyone can look forward to the next meal.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want kids to eat a variety of foods.