(NaturalNews) There is a dangerous epidemic in America today. It can affect anyone, starting from childhood and lasting, in many cases, for a lifetime. It is not a virus, though it can certainly lead to sickness. It is not spread through contact or breathing the same air as those infected, but rather through a mindset that has perniciously gripped parents of small children. If left unchecked, it can lead to a multitude of real sicknesses and problems over the course of a lifetime.
The epidemic is called 'picky eating,' and many parents are tragically ill-equipped or unwilling to fight it.
Picky eating is not a silent epidemic. In fact, the cries of children who would rather have McDonalds than broccoli can be quite loud. Nevertheless, for the long-term health of their children, parents must fight this epidemic with all the resources they can muster.
Garbage in, garbage out
The stakes are high. Many children and teenagers, during the growth stages of life when they need optimal nutrition the most, fill their bodies with junk food. Studies have shown that picky eaters are more prone to allergies, obesity, and a host of other problems. Because of a limited, nutrient deficient diet, they will often suffer from a compromised immune system that lacks the resources it needs to fight off illnesses. They will lack energy and be less able to concentrate, often leading to further learning problems as they progress through school.
Habits that are set in childhood will likely last a lifetime. There can be no doubt that, for the health and welfare of their children, parents need to go to war with picky.
Set your kids on the right path!
So how can parents buck the trend toward pickiness and get their kids on the right track nutritionally? Here are some tips:
1.) Start before birth and nurse for at least the first year. Research has found that flavors can be transmitted to amniotic fluid and human milk. Mothers who eat a variety of foods, even spicy foods, during the pregnancy and nursing stages tend to pass those preferences to their children.
2.) Don't give up. For babies just beginning to eat solid food, nutritionists recommend introducing a food at least 20 times before giving up and moving on (for now). Once a new food is introduced, often they will take a bite, then refuse the next bite. At that point give them something they will eat. But be sure to reintroduce the first food at the next meal. Rinse and repeat. Remember, the idea is to train the child's palate to accept a variety of tastes and textures.
3.) Mix a food they don't like with something they do. Be sure it's cut up into small, age-appropriate pieces. This will slowly acclimate them to the different tastes and textures.
4.) For toddlers, make a game of it. It's much more fun to eat a 'tree' than a piece of plain old broccoli. Use your imagination and they will use theirs. Sometimes playing with food can be a good thing!
5.) For older kids, offer a reward for eating their vegetable or an item you know they don't particularly like. One great reward can be a healthy 'dessert' such as yogurt or a fruit they enjoy.
6.) Variety truly is the spice if life. Too much of any one food, even a good food, can cause a child to grow weary of it. Balance is key.
7.) When all else fails, enforce negative consequences. The war with picky can sometimes be ugly, but the spoils are well worth it!
About the author: Scott is a blogger, writer, and researcher whose primary focus is how to raise healthy kids despite a system and status quo that makes it as difficult as possible. He and his wife, Kim, live in the hills of east Tennessee with their four small children. He holds an MBA from East Tennessee State University. Scott and Kim blog about parenting, marriage, healthy lifestyle, nutrition, and homesteading at www.amorefieldlife.com. Connect with them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/amorefieldlife.
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