Parental tips to avoid fights w/ fussy eaters

LOS ANGELES Including children in meal prep is one of the best rules to avoid /*picky eater*/ syndrome. The kids at Children's Choice cooking class are doing just that.

"Kids eat differently than adults do, and we just have to kind of open up and let them explore food," said chef Travis Jones of Children's Choice cooking class.

Jones said adults should not preconceive what a child is going to eat and assume they're only going to eat foods like chicken nuggets or cheeseburgers.

"I didn't really want to try like fruits and vegetables. But then when I tried them, I kind of really liked them," said cooking student Savannah Gutierrez of Huntington Beach.

Along with cooking, take them shopping, and while you're not running a restaurant, choices are crucial. Jones says that it's important that you're not putting junk food against the healthy choice.

"Do two or three healthy choices lined up, and let the child choose, let them have a voice in what they eat," he said.

Dietician Susan Dopart says according to research, you have to feed a child a food eight to 10 times before they like it. But parents don't want to make something 10 times before it gets eaten. Dopart offered her solution.

"I tell them to have what I call a "no thank you" serving, meaning eat a very small amount of that food, and over time, they condition their taste to like it," she said.

Jones said he agreed with Dopart's solution.

"We are still giving them the power of rejection, but it's kind of a compromise," he said.

Dopart believes most fussy eaters are created by their parents, and says kids will usually eat what you feed them. But if not, don't label them picky.

"The child picks up on the label, and they kind of assume they associate themselves with being picky," Jones said. "That's why kind of giving them a voice in their choices, helping guide the choices along healthy selections makes for a much more positive experience."

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