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Got a picky eater in the family? Here's help

From Ellie Krieger, nutritionist and Food Network host As a foodie and nutritionist one of the biggest joys in my life is eating and cooking with my seven year-old daughter, Isabella. But even though she is a pretty adventurous eater, she certainly has her picky moments. For some kids, picky moments seem to be all you get. Here are some of my tried and true strategies for encouraging little one

From Ellie Krieger, nutritionist and Food Network host As a foodie and nutritionist one of the biggest joys in my life is eating and cooking with my seven year-old daughter, Isabella. But even though she is a pretty adventurous eater, she certainly has her picky moments. For some kids, picky moments seem to be all you get. Here are some of my tried and true strategies for encouraging little ones to eat well, helping them enjoy mealtime and creating a healthy attitude toward food. If at first you don't succeed...Since it can take 10 or more "exposures" before a child will accept a new food, try not to throw up your hands when your child snubs something new. Comment on interesting things about the color or shape of the new food, and continue to offer a small portion of it along with the rest of the meal. Eventually curiosity may get the better of them; when it does, play it cool, and calmly praise them for trying it. In the meantime, remember not to "buy into the battle." I find that saying, "Okay, more for me" diffuses the conversation and when left unchallenged, my daughter often decides to eat the food after all. Keep it simpleKids can become overwhelmed by a heaping plate of food and may be more likely to sample it if presented in small portions. Serve “starter” portions and let them ask for more. And get creative with how you serve food. Try putting a variety of healthy nibbles in an ice cube tray with something different in each section or let them dip and dunk their way through a healthy meal using hummus, salsa, peanut butter, or yogurt. Image: Courtesy FoodNetwork.comKnow your audienceMy philosophy, whether cooking for children or adults, is to create delicious, appealing food that is also good for you. This often involves taking a favorite dish and "amping it up” by adding extra veggies or substituting a whole grain instead of a refined grain for a nutritional boost. It’s also important to “market” the food for extra appeal. A recent study showed that kids ate almost twice as many carrots when they were called "X-ray vision carrots," and I can relate to this phenomenon first hand. During a recent trip to the market with my daughter Bella, I suggested buying some kale, which was met with immediate suspicion. Conveniently, I spotted the dinosaur kale (yes, it's an actual variety of kale) and told her that it got its name because the bumpy green texture looks like the skin of a dinosaur. Sure enough, suspicion quickly became curiosity and “can we buy it please?" Challenge kids (and yourself) to ‘eat the rainbow’Mother Nature gave us a little help and made some of the most nutritious foods in beautiful, bright colors; think sweet potatoes, tomatoes, edamame, and corn. Talk about the colors and textures of food, and encourage kids to try foods in all colors. Remember, kids learn by example so let them see you enjoying delicious healthy foods and eating the rainbow in produce every day. Just remember, all kids will have their picky moments, but with a bit of patience and persistence you can set them up for healthy, lifelong habits. Related stories: