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Children are fussy. If you have ever tried to feed an infant strained baby food you know this. So how do you get them to eat the foods that are good for them with out creating a world war in your kitchen?

You need to ask yourself a few questions. What do my children like to eat? What does it look like? What does it taste like? How much am I giving them at one time. Most children prefer hamburgers, french-fries, candy, ice cream, chips and 'junk' food. Most children like salty, sweet, or fatty foods. These foods are not 'bad' in moderation; the catch is most children are not willing to eat these foods in moderation.

Something to remember before you get frantic about your child's eating habits, over time they will actually eat a balanced diet. Surprising isn't it? Your two year old who won't eat anything but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, is not going to deprive themselves of anything but variety, if different foods are offered then they will eventually try them. Patience is easy to say, but much harder to apply to your child's eating habits.

How can you encourage them to eat the things they should be eating? Offer them different foods, without being pushy. If they won't eat it forcing them to remain at the table or keeping it for the next meal is not going to change the fact. I am not talking about a child who won't eat at meal times, but then snacks all day long. I am talking about the child who won't eat the creamed peas, or the spinach soufflé you spent hours preparing. If you present different foods attractively in a non-threatening manner, children will eventually eat it. If they decide they don't like it today, they may tomorrow. Their tastes are growing just like they are and will change as they mature.

Presenting the food attractively is half of the battle. Think about the foods your child doesn't like? Spinach, liver, green beans peas, they are green, they are not very pretty, and to unaccustomed taste buds they taste funny. Children like jokes, but not on the table where their food is. Try presenting it in a different manner, instead of cooked spinach try it raw. Serve spinach instead of or with lettuce on a hamburger it is just as nutritious, and tastes different. Try liverwurst sandwiches instead of fried or baked liver, same thing, and different taste. Serve mixed vegetables, peas and carrots, green beans and corn. Sometimes the small changes make a big difference. The biggest thing is don't make a big deal of what they eat or don't. You are inviting problems where problems don't exist.

Try giving them very small portions, a teaspoon or so of each food. Be prepared to offer second portions. Don't be disappointed if they only try a single bite of a new food. They tried it. Offer it again in a few weeks, they might be willing to try two bites. Remember it is something new, and children react to new things by not liking them until they become familiar.

Allow occasional 'junk' food meals. Hamburgers and French-fries for dinner with ice cream and cake afterwards will not hurt them, and will help them learn how to moderate there desires for 'junk' food.

If you can't get them to eat foods that you want them, then try adding spinach to meatloaf, and hamburger patties, soups, and stews. Mix ground liver with lean ground beef for hamburgers, and meatloaf. Add pureed carrots and celery to meatloaf. Present new foods in a familiar setting, and the kids will at least try it eventually.

Being a parent is never easy, but with a little bit of imagination you can teach your children the things they need to know, and foster good habits for a lifetime of health.