With the help of BootsWebMD.com, meal times can be enjoyed. A varied diet is essential for children, and the government recommends that they eat foods from the four main food groups (dairy products, starchy foods, fruit and vegetables, protein) on a daily basis. But all parents know that this is easier said than done.

Parenting on Female First

Parenting on Female First

Research shows that, in Europe, Brits have the highest percentage of children who refuse to eat what is put in front of them, with almost 70 per cent regularly not eating what is on their plate and more than a quarter refusing a meal every day. However, there is no need to make a meal out of children’s eating habits - encouraging children to explore new foods and develop healthy eating habits can be achieved.

BootsWebMD.com offers tips for parents of picky eaters, as well as other ways to encourage healthy eating. Whether children need to increase the intake of certain foods or decrease the intake of others, why not try some of these simple steps to help them break those habits.

6 Tips for Fuss-Free Meal Times with the Kids:

Be a role model: Parents may have more of an influence on their child’s eating habits than they think; being a healthy role model when it comes to eating is crucial.

Encourage snacking: Healthy snacks between meals can help fill nutrient gaps in their diet. Try nutritious foods eaten in amounts that take the edge off hunger.

It takes time: Introduce new foods gradually and in small portions. Be patient - some children will try new foods after it has been offered 10-15 times.

Get creative: Make mealtime fun by cutting food into fun shapes, play games by seeing who can eat all of their colours or try an indoor picnic for a change of scenery.

Give them choices: Many children warm to vegetables when they have helped pick them out, whether at the shops or for mealtimes.

Try not to offer special menu choices for them: Resist the temptation to prepare special meals just for picky eaters. Offer the same food to the whole family, but try to make at least one item they like. If someone in the family is an adventurous eater, apply a little positive peer pressure by seating them next to the picky eater.

For more information take a look at the picky eater slideshow and children's and parenting health centre on BootsWebMD.com.

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