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My 3 year old daughter only eats vegetables!!

I'm worried that my daughter is not getting a well rounded diet. She seriously loves vegetables and once referred to broccoli as "beautiful". I have to force her to eat a few bites of meat or bread, and she will eat some fruit, too, but mostly fills up on green beans, baby carrots, broccoli, peas..... She take a multi-vitamin every morning. Do you think I am worrying for nothing? She looks great and has plenty of energy, but is on the small side. I know that protein is super important for growing kids. Any ideas or thoughts would be welcome.

Mon. Apr 24, 10:15am

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Protein: Milk? Yogurt? Pudding? Cheese? Nuts? Dry beans? Real butter on the veggies? She may be getting more protein than you think if she eats any of these. Kids don't need a ton of protein--that is, we're used to thinking of protein foods in serving sizes WAY bigger than an actual serving.

I wouldn't worry too much about her--really, energy and a healthy look are good guages for little kids. But make sure there are protein foods available. Give her hummus to dip her veggies in. Top her veggies with butter and some crushed almonds or peanuts. Sprinkle grated cheese on her broccoli. Make full-fat milk pudding for a snack(usually the recommendation is to cut full-fat milk around two years, but if she's eating mostly veggies she might need it). Also, be sure there's some fat going in. Real butter, part-fat chocolate milk, peanuts, cheese.

Monday, April 24, 2006, 10:26 AM

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Yes, I think you're worrying for nothing. As far as I can tell from all the kids in my family, this is perfectly normal for a kid that age. She's a lucky kid if she loves broccoli! Whatever you do, don't discourage THAT!! :-) And, as the last poster said, we are used to thinking of protein in larger-than-necessary servings. Make sure she gets her milk for calcium, and she'll get a lot of protein as well. Beans and a grain together will also give her a complete protein, with less fat than dairy.

Monday, April 24, 2006, 10:40 AM

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You could try Pediasure. I got some as a free sample once, although i didn't think my kids would like it. But they really loved it. Or you could even whip up some high protein milkshakes or smoothies, with fruit, if she will eat that. If you're really worried, talk to your pediatrician who might be able to give you more ideas.

It is not uncommon for children to go through periods during which they will only eat one thing, or one food group. Keep offering her a balanced diet and she will eventually branch out. Kids are very good at sensing what they need and eating accordingly, that is until we adults mess it all up by insisting they clear their plate and things like that. ha ha....

Monday, April 24, 2006, 10:45 AM

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Here's a link to a list of high protein veggetables.

If it doesn't work, go to www.nutritiondata.com and use their nutrient search tool (in the tools menu) to find the same list.

Link

Monday, April 24, 2006, 1:26 PM

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Milk is not necessary for a healthy child (other than nursing). Broccoli has tons of both calcium and protein. Honestly, don't top her food with butter and force feed her full fat milk. You should be glad to have a slender child. You are used to seeing all of the fat, overfed children at the playground. It is okay if your child is on the small side, she will grow eventually and when her body needs more energy (for growth) she will eat more. The worst thing you could do for her is try to speed her growth rate. Those who reach menarche earliest have the highest rates of breast cancer later in life. Let her eat all of the veggies she wants (you won't become malnourished eating veggies) and let her grow at her own pace.

Monday, April 24, 2006, 2:32 PM

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I'm boycotting Pediasure. I won't use their product because I hate their stupid commercials. I don't need them showing my kids that other kids don't like healthy food. Grr.

Monday, April 24, 2006, 5:15 PM

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try making toasted sandwiches with finely chopped veggies like broccoli and carrots with cheese as a binder... kinda like a grilled cheese with lots of veggies... she will then hopefully try it if it is veggie "rich." You could even pre mark the bread with a face (they sell presses or molds but I think you could make something up with cookie cutters- and decorate it to make it more palatable... or get a huge cookie cutter or small ones and make different shaped sandwiches or lots of mini ones and make lunch or dinner a "tea party." She is probably getting more protein than you think like the other posters said... my son is on the thin side as well, never had a huge appeteit. We just offer food and if he eats it fine... we don't force him to eat or withold sweets.

Monday, April 24, 2006, 5:57 PM

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Maybe she would like hummus on her veggies, or on a veggie wrap or sandwich.

Monday, April 24, 2006, 10:56 PM

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soy milk! its the way my kids get most of their protein throughout the day...though they are a bit older and do eat cheese and meat at some point during the day. but a juice box sized soy milk has a good amount of protein, and comes in vanilla and chocolate flavors which my kids really like.

Monday, April 24, 2006, 11:51 PM

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Who said force-feed? I wonder why that was assumed. I love milk and didn't give up whole milk until after my first child was born and my weight didn't come off like I wanted it to. I was always slender before that, and I'm generally healthy other than weight, which isn't about milk and cheese for me--it's about brownies and cookies.

I've had three good friends in my lifetime who have encouraged me to change my diet--quit dairy, go vegetarian, etc. They might have convinced me if their kids weren't sick so much more often than mine, or looked more healthy, or weren't hyperactive, or if my kids were overweight. I'm not saying their dietary choices made their kids sick or hyper or whatever--could be that their dietary choices were a response to their kids' health/behavior issues. But my boys and Anna are almost never sick; they're all healthy, pink-cheeked, fit and trim kids; there's no hyperactivity or any other disorder/syndrome/condition that is commonly traced to diet; and it suggests that a diet that includes dairy, meat, and even some white flour (which I don't consider the very best choice either) can produce fine healthy children.

That said, if OP prefers no dairy for her child, I'm sure she saw some suggestions in my post as well as others' that would fit. Beans, nuts. I gave as many ideas as I could to give her plenty from which to pick and choose, because to me having lots of choices and realizing that some of them are already happening in my child's diet would have been reassuring.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006, 10:34 AM

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op here

i appreciate all of your comments. there is no way, however, that I am not going to give milk to my daughter. she loves milk, it is good for her, and why would i discourage that??? my husband and I also drink at least 2 glasses a day and are very healthy. We really try to eat healthy, and because she is so good at eating her veggies, we let her have small treats of candy and dessert and yes occassionally soda - moderation is the key, we believe. I am hoping and praying that she doesn't grow out of this veggie lovin' stage, though! :)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006, 10:50 AM

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Milk for some, not for others

Many people are healthy drinking milk, but many are allergic to it or lactose intolerant (can can develop over time).

I personally had an unknown milk allergy as a child. My mom made me drink it because it does have nutritious benefits, but I had TONS of ear infections (probably at least 4-5 every year) which stopped when I stopped drinking milk. Some people develop sinus infections and asthma as a result of milk drinking.

In the end, do what works best for you.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006, 7:39 PM

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yup- I'm one of the ones who find that dairy aggravates my allergies and my asthma. It's a fine line I have to walk, and I totally notice it in my running if I've been consuming too much dairy.

Foods can contain beneficial nutrients and still have negative health effects over all on certain individuals. It's all a matter of individual chemistry. I consider wheat evil (oh does it do nasty things to me...) and dairy isn't my friend either. Red meat- mmmm... best friend. However my boyfriend can't eat red meat without feeling lethargic after.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006, 10:56 PM

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