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Doc Talk: Picky Eaters

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If you’re a parent, you know how picky kids can be when it comes to food. Sometimes they don’t want what you’ve cooked them. Sometimes they don’t want any food at all.

Since March is National Nutrition Month, CBS 21 met with a pediatrician from Holy Spirit Hospital, who said we often think children are not good eaters, but as it turns out, sometimes they’re better than adults.

“Toddlers and young children in particular have a great inborn ability to know how much they need to eat in order to grow and be active and will sort of limit themselves,” said Dr. Jennifer Still, a pediatrician at Holy Spirit Hospital.

That’s why Dr. Still suggests buying section plates that allow you to better portion out foods. After that, she suggests letting kids take the reins, deciding which vegetables and sides they want with their protein.

“Some people have a lot of success with family dining where the food’s there and you allow the child to choose,” said Dr. Still.

That goes for everything; Dr. Still suggests having them help pick food at the grocery store and cook dinner with the adults in the household. Cooking will also work toward preventing them from demanding something else for dinner.

We, as parents, should not be short order cooks, so there’s a meal and that’s what everybody’s having.

She says not to put too much pressure on kids about what they’re eating or not eating because they simply won’t respond to it. Even if you don’t think they’re eating healthy enough, the only real time to be concerned is if they’re suffering with issues like anemia, weakness, fatigue, constipation or “a child who is falling off of growth curves so a child who is not gaining weight the way they’re supposed to be, if they’re not getting taller.”

Keeping dinner time or any mealtime as a family-focused time is also important. It eliminates distractions such as televisions and phones and allows them to focus on conversation during meals.

Also, don’t be surprised if they have a day when they’re eating less and another day when they’re eating more. Dr. Still says that’s natural and okay as long as they continue to grow and gain weight.

She also emphasizes acting as a good role model for your child, limit their snacking to healthy foods only, and encouraging them to try foods several times because they may decide they like something later.

In terms of things to avoid, Dr. Still says children shouldn’t be taking multivitamins, but calcium and Vitamin D are okay. They also shouldn’t be drinking supplemental shakes because they can just lead to more eating problems.

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