Pleasing the Picky Eater

She loathes practically every vegetable.

What's the Big Deal? Veggies are very low-cal and packed with healthy plant compounds as well as immune-boosting nutrients like vitamins A and C. According to new research from two children's hospitals, preschoolers who ate a diet low in fried foods and rich in dark-green and deep-yellow vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and sweet potatoes not only had a lower fat mass but also a higher bone mass than those who didn't, possibly because the potassium in them acts as a bone builder.

Work Around It: Focus on the veggies your child does like. Even though it's technically a fruit, the USDA counts tomato salsa and marinara sauce toward your kid's veggie servings. (Toddlers and preschoolers need about 2 cups daily while 5- to 8-year-olds require roughly 2 1/2 to 3.) Potatoes are another well-liked option.

But keep offering all veggies in a no-pressure way. Routinely put them on her plate or serve them family-style at the dinner table, but don't make a big deal if she doesn't eat any. Or set out a veggie appetizer with low-fat dip right before dinner, when kids are really hungry. In a new study from Penn State University, 3- to 5-year-olds polished off more carrots when they were served before lunch rather than during the meal. If she's still not budging, pick up the slack with fruit: Spinach is high in vitamin A, but so are dried apricots, cantaloupes, and mangoes. If she won't eat C-rich green beans or broccoli, offer strawberries, citrus fruit, or pineapple. They're all great choices for a snack or dessert.

Strategies for Picky Eaters
Strategies for Picky Eaters

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