Pleasing the Picky Eater

He squirts ketchup on everything.

Dipping carrots in ketchup

Monica Buck

What's the Big Deal? The typical ketchup is sugary and salty. Each tablespoon has a teaspoon of sugar and about as much sodium as a handful of potato chips. But that same squirt adds only a reasonable 15 extra calories, and "for a lot of kids, ketchup allows them to expand the variety of foods they'll eat," says Jill Castle, R.D., owner of Pediatric Nutrition of Green Hills, in Nashville.

Work Around It: Look for brands like Heinz No Salt, which doesn't have sodium, or Hunts No Salt Added, which is also sweetened with regular sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup. Then be generous about how much ketchup your kid can put on veggies, fish, or other healthy foods -- the benefits trump a little extra salt and sugar. But insist on just a squirt for foods, which your kid would probably eat plain. Experiment with other toppings too. "I put a small amount of natural maple syrup or agave nectar on bitter-tasting veggies like cauliflower and brussels sprouts," says Victoria Shanta Retelny, R.D., a dietitian in Chicago.

Originally published in the November 2010 issue of Parents magazine.

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