Are your little angels picky eaters? If so, you know how mealtime can turn into a battlefield. What to do?
You can encourage your children to dig into unique dishes with a bit of creativity and persistence. Here are seven ways to get your kids to try new foods.
1. Make It an Adventure
Have you been chomping at the bit to get some new stamps on your passport? Fortunately, countries have begun easing travel restrictions, allowing you more freedom than since before the pandemic. If you have the means, journeying to a distant land is a surefire way to get your kids to try something new, if only because there aren’t any golden arches within driving distance.
However, you don’t necessarily have to pack a suitcase to explore the tastes of distant lands. Why not throw an international foods-themed week when you do your meal prep this coming weekend? You can get your kids to try fish sauce while sampling some inspired Vietnamese cuisine — they might not mind it mixed with the blander rice.
Some may even love shrimp!
This idea works particularly well if you are still homeschooling because your children are medically fragile — or you don’t trust returning them to in-person school unvaccinated. You can tie your meals in with an entire unit. You can take a virtual tour of museums like the Louvre while exploring French cuisine and introducing your children to fabulous new flavors.
2. Become a Master of Disguise
Another trick to get your children to try new foods is to disguise things they might object to inside a recipe they’ll love. For example, your children might turn up their noses at eating zucchini. However, they’ll dig right into these chocolatey brownies with no prompting — you might have to hide these treats if you don’t want to spoil dinner.
Sauces make another excellent medium for hiding foods. For example, if your children balk at trying new veggies, why not sneak some into their mac and cheese? You can find noodles made from spiralized carrots that you can weave into their typical pasta. You can also rice nearly any vegetable and add colorful phytonutrients to various noodle-based meals.
Will your children eat meatloaf? If they enjoy this classic dish, you can likewise use it to sneak more veggies into their diet. They might notice the taste of more pungent varieties like onions, but you can add some minced kale or broccoli without raising any eyebrows.
3. Offer Tiny Portions
Trying nearly anything new becomes more manageable when you take it in small doses. Think about the process of changing a habit. It can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to break a bad one or establish a positive routine. You won’t like your new running practice much if you tackle a marathon on your first outing — start small.
Is it okay to bribe your kids to take just a taste? Positive reinforcement tends to work better than punitive measures when it comes to altering behavior. Therefore, threatening your child with sending them to their room for refusing to try your asparagus au gratin will only lead to tears and resentment. It’s okay to offer an extra-big slice of cake if they try a bite of veggies.
4. Change the Scenery
Did you ever notice how food tends to taste better after you’ve been working outside? The fresh air and sunshine can stimulate your appetite. Changing up the scenery for your kids could inspire them to try new foods that they refuse to touch at the dining room table.
Why not go for a picnic in the park? You can use this activity to introduce your children to mindfulness along with a new fruit or vegetable. Slow down and savor your meal while you eat. Pause and observe the passing birds and butterflies — take in the scenery.
5. Use Their Innate Hunger
You don’t want to let your children go hungry. However, they will be more likely to sample something new at the supper table if they’re famished when they sit down to eat.
Therefore, try to limit snacks and drinks, especially close to mealtime. It’s wise to let your little ones go at least an hour or two without a snack before sitting down to dinner. Pickier eaters might need a bit more time to work up an appetite.
6. Be Persistent
Guess what? Getting your kids to like broccoli isn’t a once-and-done proposition. To make changes stick, you need consistency.
It takes you introducing a new food up to 15 times before your child decides if they like it. They may also decide they simply don’t find it appealing — if so, let them decline to eat it. After all, you have foods you don’t like.
7. But Don’t Push Too Hard
However, you don’t want to push your children too hard to try different things. Doing so could backfire, making them even more reluctant to taste new foods.
Remember, your child is a unique human being with taste buds all their own. Just because you adore radishes doesn’t mean your little one will. Respect their tastes. As long as they get proteins, fresh vegetables and quality carbohydrates, they’ll consume everything they need to stay healthy.
Get Your Kids to Try New Foods
Dinner can be frustrating if you have a picky eater on your hands. Get your kids to try new foods with these tips.