My kids do not like sweet things (which is not a bad thing) but even juice is not something they like. What can I give them instead?

Being a picky eater may be a natural state for a child. It is not necessarily a bad thing that your kids don’t love sweets! But, I am wondering if they are lacking in obtaining several key nutrients that come from sweet foods. For example, fruit and 100% fruit juice are obviously sweet. Some vegetables are considered sweet also (carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, etc.). Fruits and vegetables in general are an important part of a growing child’s diet, but experts do not want parents to force their kids to eat them. They suggest that they avoid using statements like “If you do not eat one more bite I will be mad” because it may leave your child with an unhealthy behavior or attitude around food. Researchers suggest parents shy away from using statements that may confuse a child’s ability to recognize hunger and fullness (“You’re such a big girl; you finished all your peas”). And try to avoid using food as a reward or punishment (“No dessert until you eat your fruit”). Most kids outgrow their food jags if parents and caregivers don’t make a big deal about their food preferences.

When working with a picky eater, there are several things that dietitians suggest. First, try to describe a healthy sweet food using sensory qualities vs. taste qualities. Encourage your kids to snack on apples and oranges and use words like “crunchy” and “juicy” to describe them. Experts suggest using statements to help determine if your child is hungry or full. “Is your stomach telling you that you are full?” or “Is your belly making that hungry growling noise?” Experts also suggest that using certain statements that make your child feel like he or she is making the choices. For example, it could be helpful to say “Do you like that?” or “Which one is your favorite?” Overall, I think that if parents present foods/eating in a healthy way, then your child will eventually begin to take in a variety of foods…even sweet ones!

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