I’m always seeing posts online where people are asking how to help their children learn to eat and enjoy more food types. If you’re stuck in this situation and have picky eaters please read on!
When a baby reaches the right age, we are told to start giving them different types of solid food. You start with rice, move on to other grains and eventually introduce vegetables, fruits and meat. At what point do you start introducing snack foods or start letting them eat only what they like? Our society is very practiced at trying to make eating and meal time EASY. Introducing snack foods certainly makes life easy when we’re on the go and running around all the time, after all kids need to eat something! But it will definitely make going back to a healthy lifestyle more difficult. Don’t worry! It can be done!
It won’t be easy. You’re going to have to be strong! Yep. Another thing in life where you have to be strong. It sucks. But eating healthy does matter and it’s worth it when you finally see your kids eat veggies and love them! (Hint: try this awesome cheesy, veggie dip on them. They’ll love it!)
So how do you start the process of getting your kid to eat healthy food? One thing at a time, with patience. Don’t push a Thai stir fry on them first thing! Start with one new veggie at each meal that they HAVE TO try. They can’t walk away from the meal without eating it and they don’t get supper without it.
When you introduce a new food to a child over and over again (they have to try it at least 13 times I always tell my kids) they will eventually learn to enjoy the flavour. When you allow them to choose something else they will never grow to appreciate the new food!
The thing I think people are forgetting is that, as parents, we are here to teach our children how to eat healthy. It is up to us to show them how to eat healthy as well and to try new things. Both my children have learned to like many different types of food, including many fruits, vegetables and ethnic foods. They weren’t always so receptive and there are many foods they still don’t like, such as mushrooms. (Update! They now like mushrooms!!)
I understand the need to limit certain foods. For instance, if your child really hates peas and you’ve introduced them multiple times then by all means stop serving peas! Or if your child has specific allergies. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about allowing children to tell you what they want and never making them try new things.
There are many foods that you don’t automatically like, right away. I’m really glad we have the rule that you have to try something 13 times rule, because, honestly, I thought I hated brussels sprouts. I really hated them! They tasted like dirt! Then my mother in law cooked them with maple syrup, cranberries and almonds. OMG they were amazing! I can’t believe I might have missed out on this new taste experience if I had refused to try them because I thought I didn’t like them. I think it’s the same with children. You have to teach them to keep trying new things. You have to teach them what is healthy and what their body needs. And, finally, you really need to stop letting them choose. Stop letting them say no to every healthy food. Stop cooking other foods for them.
They will make a big fuss, they will scream and yell, they will tell you they will starve (they won’t). Eventually, they will come out of their room and eat their supper. As long as you don’t give in. Heck I would rather eat only cookies and ice cream for supper too, but I know better. I know I can’t do this or my body will give up on me. I won’t have any energy and I won’t be happy. Remember, you don’t have to conquer Rome in a day. No child is going to just go along with this and agree to eat everything. But the more you try, the more they will start to like new foods. Some day they may even suggest something new for you to try!
Disclosure: This is only my opinion as I’m not a professional and if you think there may be a medical cause for why your children don’t eat some foods please see your doctor!!