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I have four year old twins, the girl eats everything in sight but my son eats almost nothing, I cant get him to eat veg or meat. Everytime I force feed him he makes himself vomit, i have tried charts, rewards even bribes. Have you got any ideas? He lives on cheese toast and noodles!

It is sometimes a struggle to get children to eat their recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Fortunately, you have one child who loves them! As for your son, here are a few ideas:
  1. Add fruits and vegetables to the dishes he already loves. You mentioned he likes cheese toast and noodles. Therefore, try adding tomato soup with his cheese toast (or grilled cheese). As for noodles, try adding spaghetti sauce on top of the noodles.  These tomato products are nutritious and don’t have the seeds that some children don’t like.
  2. Introduce him to fruit juice, since fruit juice counts towards his fruit servings for the day. There are several varieties available that offer both vegetables and fruit in each serving of their juice!  (Just don’t rely solely on juice for all of his fruits/vegetables.)
  3. Since he doesn’t enjoy meat, how about beans? You can mash chickpeas and make hummus and than spread this on toast.  This is not only a great source of protein, but counts as a vegetable too!
  4. Sometimes it takes multiple “tastes” before a child learns to like new foods, so tell him that he needs to at least taste the food and that perhaps his taste buds just “aren’t old enough” to like them yet… explain that taste buds do mature with age.
  5. Sometimes cooked veggies are stronger in flavor than those that are raw (they often taste different raw vs cooked anyway), so consider having him try them raw first.
  6. If your son is at least eating his fruit, don’t get overly stressed about him not eating his vegetables. Several nutrients found in vegetables are also found in fruit. It’s not unusual for children to have food “jags” where they stick with certain foods for a period of time.  If he does eat fruit, continue to focus on those for a while – things like fruit smoothies (with real fruit) are always a favorite with kids! Canned peaches, pears, bananas, berries, and apples are also kid-fruit favorites.
  7. Get your children involved in the preparation and cooking process. This will help him learn about healthy eating and be more excited about his fruits and vegetables.
I know that trying to give your children proper nutrition can be frustrating, but don’t give up! The best advice is to offer him the healthy options and let him learn for himself what he likes and doesn’t like. In time, he will learn to enjoy more of the nutritious foods that you prepare for him! Sign up for our free newsletter for more ways to keep your children healthy and happy.
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The Expert: Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, is the President and CEO of the Produce for Better Health (PBH) Foundation. At PBH, she guides the Foundation’s efforts to advance the overall effort of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.
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