Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits (at least 3 servings per day). Choose whole grain options like whole wheat, rye, brown rice, barley, quinoa and multigrain. Fill a quarter of your plate with protein foods including beans, nuts and seeds, fish, eggs, poultry without skin, lean red meats and low fat dairy products.
Getting a little kid to eat their veggies can be a challenge. While a little power struggle is normal, prolonged dinner table battles can be a sign of a bigger problem.
“When do you need to treat it? There aren’t clear-cut guidelines,” said Sherri Cohen, a pediatrician and the medical director of the Martha Escoll Lubeck Feeding and Swallowing Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
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When Cohen works with picky eaters, she considers the following questions, as well as the child’s age, developmental stage, and any medical conditions that may affect eating:
Has the child added foods to their diet over time by choice?
Has the child limited their diet to fewer than 20 foods?
Is there at least one food from each food group the child will eat?
Does the child refuse to eat the same foods as family members and insist on processed foods?
Can the child sit down for a meal with their family?
Has the child’s diet affected their nutrition?
Does the child have physical difficulty eating?
Has the child’s pickiness become a significant source of stress for the family?
Medical, behavioral, and developmental issues all can contribute to feeding problems. Economic and social challenges, such as not having access to healthy foods or not being able to afford healthy food, can also be a factor, Cohen said.
Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you’re worried about their eating habits. If your primary care doctor isn’t sure what’s wrong, they may be able to consult with specialists like Cohen or refer your child to a specialty center.