The holy grail for many parents is raising children who, amongst other things, will eat a wide variety of healthy foods and who relish the thought of trying something new. The reality for most though is that mealtime are often fraught, tense and accompanied by the omnipresent chorus of…..YUK!
As parent we try our best, we offer great variety during weaning and happily most foods are gleefully accepted by our open mouthed little fledglings, however once these little fledgling reach a certain age, usually after their 1st birthday, the first utterance of yuk can be detected, and so begins the downward spiral to all out food wars.
But does it have end this way, maybe not.
I have learned a number of things over the last few years which have managed to avert all out war.
This post comes with some Big Disclaimers:
I do not claim that my children are amazing eaters BUT they will try almost all foods offered to them.
Secondly, I have on a number of occasions cried when the dinner I’ve spent all day preparing ends up in the dogs bowl.
Thirdly, when I hear another parent telling how their child loves olives a little small part of me dies inside!!
The following is a guide to how to encourage your child to try, and hopefully like, new foods.
•Always remember that the aim is for them to try new food, they are not obliged to like it. If they try it and reject it then discuss what they don’t like, is it the texture, the taste or just even the look. Kids judge food a lot my appearance so figuring this out can help.
•Give the children, where age appropriate , some control over what they eat. My kids adore what they call a ‘snacking tea’. This involves lots of different things being put out on the table and them getting to pick what they want to eat, try putting out food you know they like along with one new thing. Children are curious and once they realise that they don’t ‘have to’ try something the quite often will.
•Don’t assume that because you don’t like something that they won’t, let them try it and you’ll be surprised, mine like broccoli which as a veg I’m not that fussed about.
•Have a ‘bribe’ food on the plate. As I said earlier, children judge food quite often by appearance, and will often reject it before even tasting it but if they see something there that they love they will be far more receptive to it. Things that work for us are for example: Pineapple added to Sweet and Sour Pork and Curries, Potato Croquettes added to any dinner, bizzarly my children love Balsamic Vinegar and will only eat Salmon when it is drizzled on top!
And of course stewed apple makes any pork dish a winner. If it works and makes the food a positive experience then it’s fine by me.
•The last tip I have for encouraging them to try food is to not offer it to them. Eating something in front of your children, and making positive noises about it ( wow, this is yummy), which they have not been offered is probably the most effective way of getting them to ask if they can try it.
•If none of these work try not to worry, they won’t go through life only eating plain pasta with butter!!!…they all go through phases and they will grow out of them, they too are allowed to like and dislike foods.
And finally, yes my children do love lettuce BUT they will only eat either baby gem or cos, and only if it covered with balsamic dressing….you have to celebrate the small victories.