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How to Raise Healthy Eaters the Right Way

Most parents are convinced that to get their children to eat right is through consequences, pleas and bribes. You know these old chestnuts: "Eat your vegetables or no dessert" and "You don't know what it tastes like—just try it."

After daily commands, scolding and limitations, as a parent, you may wonder why your kid still scoffs at the sight of green beans on the table. Jane E. Brody seems to have come to a realization that may help these frustrated moms and dads, which she wrote about in the New York Times. Brody credits the book "It's Not About the Broccoli" by Dina Rose as her food epiphany, which helped Brody understand that as a kid, she only wanted to control what she ate, instead of her parents single-handedly constructing her diet for her; this only made her rebel more and not eat what they wanted her to consume.

In other words, parents should stop controlling and completely depriving their children of certain foods. In addition, when parents focus too much attention on nutrition, it can actually backfire.

"Sweetened yogurt, which can contain as much sugar per ounce as soda, and mac 'n' cheese, full of fat and salt, are featured because they contain calcium; chicken nuggets get a pass for their protein content, and french fries — well they are vegetables after all," wrote Brody. "The other side of the coin can be just as damaging. Given modern concerns about sugar and fat, some health-conscious parents forbid their children to indulge in treats, even at birthday parties. I know a neighborhood boy from such a restrictive household who used to keep a stash of candy and cookies his parents forbade in his friend's bedroom."

A more successful approach to training your kids to embrace a healthy diet according to Rose is to stay away from controlling, overbearing tactics and instead instill these three habits in your kids: proportion, variety and moderation. Balancing portion size, introducing unfamiliar foods by preparing them in a more appetizing way, and a gradual admittance to a more eclectic palette is the way to go.

Photo credit: Flickr: Creative Commons/David Goehring

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