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Pleasing Picky Eaters!

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dec-4.jpgKids and their veggies. For some parents, it’s a breeze. Whether it’s luck or mom and dad’s hard work paying off (or a combination of both), these parents are often among the fortunate few. For other parents, dinnertime is a perpetual struggle.

Here are a few tried-and-true veggie-eating strategies that my clients have shared with me. While some may look familiar, others may offer you new sources of inspiration:

  • Don’t force the issue, and don’t make a big deal out of eating vegetables. As with many things, if parents feel strongly one way, kids can tend to do the opposite.
  • Play the “two-bite” game. If your child has two bites of vegetables every night for a week, they get a reward—a friend staying over or a new game. There’s no punishment, though, if they don’t get the two bites in (you don’t want to create a negative association with the veggie tastings!); they simply don’t get the extra “treat” that week.
  • Make veggies available to your kids. This may seem obvious, but it doesn’t always happen. Too often, if kids don’t eat it, parents stop offering it.
  • Neutralize the veggies. Some vegetables tend to be bitter, and your little one’s taste buds can be especially sensitive. Adding cheese or a sweet sauce such as teriyaki or soy can help to offset the caustic flavor of some vegetables.
  • Hide them. If all else fails, disguise finely chopped (or blended) veggies in meatballs, hamburger or chili. Try making mashed potatoes with half cauliflower and half potatoes. Experiment with canned pumpkin in muffins and cookies. Not only will you be adding phytonutrients and fiber, you’ll get the added bonus of cutting back on fat as well.

Dear Molly,
I am a 42-year-old woman who just underwent a radical hysterectomy. Now that I have been given hormones to take, I am worried that I will gain a ton of weight. Is there anything I should change in terms of my diet?

Hormone replacement therapy may make it more difficult to manage your weight, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s out of your control. It simply means that you may have to work a little harder to stay in great shape! There’s no magic answer to the question of what you should eat now. But it is vital that you make smart choices.

Let’s start with the basics: Limit “white carbs” (carbohydrates that come from white bread and pasta) and sugars throughout the day. They generally won’t keep you feeling full, and they offer little to no nutritional value. Make sure to limit all carbs—white and whole grain—at dinnertime. Think of it this way: Your body doesn’t need that boost of energy late in the evening. Limiting those carbs is an easy way to slash calories without missing out on lean proteins to maintain your muscle mass, or high-fiber veggies that’ll fill you up with hardly any calories.

Make sure you’re eating a small meal or snack every three or four hours through the day, to maximize your body’s calorie-burning process and to keep you from feeling ravenous.

And, lastly, you may need to kick up your workouts a notch, in terms of time (exercising longer) and intensity (exercising harder). Be sure to add in some time for strength training to build more calorie-burning muscle. As always, it’s recommended to check with your physician before starting any new program.