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By Courtenay R. Hall

Tips for helping your child eat healthy.

I don't know about the rest of you but turning food into a caterpillar has not made my children want to eat it anymore then just putting the plate in front of them. Teaching your children to eat healthfully is one of the most important life lessons you can bestow upon them. If they learn from a young age hopefully they will stick with the habit through their adult life. Being an adult trying to change 20 plus years of a bad habit is exceedingly difficult. You succeed, you fail, you succeed, you fail. You hope this next attempt is the last one and you will finally succeed beyond measure to your goal of a healthy lifestyle. Not only for yourself but for your children as well.

I have two kids, a 4- and a 5-year-old. We have gone through the picky-eating stage, and are still in it in some ways. My youngest is by the far the worst of the two. She would not eat anything remotely healthy, or the few things she did enjoy she would eat in excess. She really adores GoGurt. I know 60 calories doesn't sound like much for yogurt. But five a day is bad. She was starting to get a little chubby, and being overweight myself, I decided that was enough. I was not going to put her on the tough path I had cut for myself. It has been an uphill battle trying to change her eating habits. She would drink only milk, and she loves bagels and mostly all foods that should be limited.

I have read articles, looked for new recipes and bought new foods all in the hope that I could change her eating habits and start her off on the right foot. Have you ever looked on Pinterest at the pins for kid-friendly foods? Well, they basically want you to turn everything into an animal. I'm sure some children are all for that. I'm sure they might be willing to try it more if it looks fun to eat. What about us other moms who have spirited children? The ones that no matter if their food looks like a bear or a caterpillar are not going to try anything new? They made up their mind and that is that.

The best way I have found to help my children eat more healthfully is to make more food from scratch. I make the things they enjoy but alter the recipe to make it healthier. Instead of throwing a bowl of easy mac in the microwave I make the mac and cheese from scratch. That way I can control the ingredients. Less salt, butter and skim milk. I also make homemade chicken nuggets instead of the frozen kind. Yes, these things take more time but it is worth it to know your children are eating better foods. I also continue to offer healthy foods such as fruit and raw veggies over and over again. Eventually they will give it a try and, with any luck, enjoy them.

Also, prepare yourself for the fight. Getting her to drink less milk and more water was a battle for a few days. Once she realized I was not backing down she was OK with milk in the morning and evening only. The best advice I can give is for you not to be afraid to say no. They will get over it. If you want your children to eat healthier, you can't be afraid to say no, and to hold your ground. After all, you are their parent and you decide what they should and shouldn't eat. Starting healthy habits is something that will hopefully stick with them for a lifetime. It is so much easier to start good habits early than to try and change bad habits later.

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