One way to help small children accept a healthy, varied diet is to eat a varied diet yourself. Research suggests that adults’ vegetable consumption should serve as a model for younger diners. That is, adults should load up their own plates with a variety of vegetables, and snack on items like carrot sticks and apple slices between meals, so that children will be more likely to follow suit. Children often mimic adults’ behaviors, including the unhealthy ones.
A mom who only drinks diet soda for dinner, or a dad who insists that his 3-year-old eat asparagus but never puts it on his own plate, may send confusing messages. Involving children in the food shopping, menu selection, and preparation of meals is another way to encourage them to enjoy a variety of foods.