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Our daughter is 6. She eats mostly processed foods and snacks.

Our daughter is 6....
Our daughter is 6. She eats mostly processed foods and snacks. Very little fruit or veggies - just occasional apple and cucumber slices. For protein she will have an egg maybe 2 times a week and hot dog or chicken fingers for dinner. Really mostly carbs and sweets. Thankfully she doesn't drink soda - just water, juice, seltzer. And she does like yogurt.

I don't want to try and force her to eat certain things - I hated that when I was a kid. And I don't want To give her a complex over food. She sometimes lies to me about how much she had. For example, I see 3 fruit roll-ups wrappers in the trash yet she tells me she had 1. I do try to constantly explain to her it's ok to have snacks and sweets but there has to be a balance with healthy food. She is a smart kid so I wonder if it sinks in or she will get sick later cause of an unhealthy diet.
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Answered in 3 hours by:
8/30/2013
Dr. Gupta
Dr. Gupta, Doctor (MD)
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 8,205
Experience: Experienced, Board Certified practicing Pediatrician experienced in common parenting issues.
Verified

Dr. Gupta :

Thanks for contacting us,

Dr. Gupta :

I do share your concern regarding the lack of a proper diet in your daughter's case,

Dr. Gupta :

I also understand your reluctance to force the issue, given your childhood hatred of the same,

Dr. Gupta :

Here are a few things that I would suggest to make her eat healthier without forcing an intelligent child to do so ;)

Dr. Gupta :

However, we must remember that she cannot grasp the concept of long term health problems at this age, and while this needs to be explained to her, we cannot expect her to act on these concepts ...

Dr. Gupta :

You are quite correct that if she continues to avoid the 'good' foods and rely excessively on processed foods, over the long term she is likely to face health issues like obesity, low hemoglobin, decreased exercise capacity, lower IQs etc.

Dr. Gupta :

Here are the tips

Dr. Gupta :

1. Turning off the television not only gets rid of distractions at family meals, but also encourages your kids to play in a more physical way. Children this age should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day—playing tag, having a play room dance party, and playing on a jungle gym are all fun ways to get moving.

Dr. Gupta :

2.

Dr. Gupta :

Have children participate in making meals: have them set the table, peeling carrots and potatoes, measure liquids.

Dr. Gupta :

3. At the age of 5 children become like adults in that they eat more when served more. Serve smaller portions and give children second helpings when they ask for it.

Dr. Gupta :

4. Children of this age can really get into the “eat the rainbow” idea. Challenge them to eat some fruit or vegetable from every color each day—white, yellow, orange, red, purple, and green.

Dr. Gupta :

5. Most of the parents we know complain that their children refuse to eat healthfully and come to us in search of magic recipes that will put an end to mealtime madness. The real problem most often lies with the parents, not the kids. Most of us are so accustomed to eating out and buying prepared foods in the grocery store that we don’t even know what good food is anymore. We can’t line our cabinets with packaged cereals and sodas and expect our kids to eat like they were raised on a commune in rural Vermont. In order to be good role models we must educate ourselves first and then practice what we preach.

Dr. Gupta :

I Think that the above is an important point, NOT buying stuff that you do not want your child to eat is an important part of healthy eating too.....

Dr. Gupta :

6. Unfortunately we don’t all live near farms or farmers’ markets, so it’s not easy for us or our children to feel a connection with good, whole (unprocessed) foods.

Dr. Gupta :

One way to help them learn is to make a point to take them grocery shopping with you.

Dr. Gupta :

Take them when you’re not in a hurry and spend a lot of time in the aisles that contain unprocessed foods — the produce, meat, and fish departments, for example. If your child appears to be interested in a certain type of fruit or vegetable, encourage him or her to explore that item; don’t just assume that your child won’t like it. Take it home and let him try it so he can make his own decisions.

Dr. Gupta :

7. Remember, anything in moderation is okay. Of course, if you eat doughnuts in moderation, followed by potato chips in moderation and soda in moderation, it is no longer healthy. Having a cookie every day and balancing it with healthy foods is a better practice of moderation.

Dr. Gupta :

This is something that you are ALREADY trying to practice .. so keep it up ....

Dr. Gupta :

8.


There are all sorts of fun things we can do to make mealtime special. First and foremost, sit down and enjoy your food. Take time to savor flavors. Children should never eat while walking around.


We understand that some young children have difficulty sitting for the entire meal. In those cases we recommend allowing the child to get up once or twice, while encouraging the child to sit — not stand — at the table when he or she comes back to eat. For children who are able to understand, explain to them that mealtimes are special family times and it is important to the family that everyone sit down to eat and talk together.


 

Dr. Gupta :

9.


Most research says that it takes an average of ten to twelve attempts before a child will try a new food, unless they are involved in cooking and gardening projects like Alice Waters’s Edible Schoolyard or after school summer programs. Learning about food and cooking in an active way helps breed a sense of culinary adventure.


Make the same dinner for everyone in the family while making sure to put some foods on the plate that your children like — then add something new. If they don’t touch it, don’t worry about it, and definitely don’t make an argument out of it.


Try again the next week and again the following week. Eventually they’ll surprise you by at least tasting that new food.

Dr. Gupta :

FINALLY ...
Kids don’t need frozen chicken nuggets, French fries, macaroni and cheese, and pizza to keep them happy. Highly processed foods like these are loaded with chemicals, synthetic fats, additives, artificial sweeteners, and food colorings. And even a three-year-old can grasp why sodas aren’t good for you and why we don’t eat foods with lots of fat every day at every meal.

Dr. Gupta :

Since television ads are the most prevalent medium and therefore influential, we recommend limiting television viewing early in life to channels with fewer commercials — or better yet, to videos with no commercials.

Dr. Gupta :

You can get some more excellent tips here

Dr. Gupta :

All the best

Dr. Gupta :

Dr Gupta MD :)

Dr. Gupta
Dr. Gupta, Doctor (MD)
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 8,205
Experience: Experienced, Board Certified practicing Pediatrician experienced in common parenting issues.
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