Blog post by Beth Waisburd, our health coach.
We’ve all been there – you start the New Year resolving to eat better. You plan, shop, prepare and serve your family a healthful new dish. But before your eyes, they transform into creatures that speak a language consisting only of “eeews” and “yucks.” You beg them to try just one bite, to no avail. Dejected and exhausted, you microwave some chicken nuggets and toss on a side of baby carrots for good measure. You watch them devour their new dinner and sigh…maybe next year.
There is no question that it is difficult to get kids to try new foods. Kids are naturally adverse to new things. But it is so important for them to expand their palates and develop healthy habits. Introducing new foods takes time, patience and a dollop of creativity. There is no magic method that works for everyone but here are some things to try:
1.) Get the kids involved
– Whether it be choosing a new fruit / veggie at the store or helping to cook the meal, let kids have a voice. It’s a lot harder for them to reject something that they have a hand in preparing. Also, ask them to grade every new meal. Even if they give it an “F,” they have to try it to grade it! And you can reserve the right to improve your grade at future meals.
2.) Repeat, repeat, repeat!
– Many studies suggest that repetition is the key to developing a palate. Even if your child refuses a new food, just seeing it on the plate over and over will help shift it into their comfort zone.
3.) Set the example
– Even when you think they’re not, our kids are watching our every move. If we want to them to try new things, then we need to try new things too. In lieu of the latest “diet” fad, work toward long-term healthy lifestyle changes that our kids can safely embrace as well.
4.) Keep ‘em hungry
– If your kids are hungry, it is much more likely that they will be willing to take a bite. Limit snacks close to meal time and don’t offer substitutions. They will hold out for plain pasta and chicken nuggets if they know it’s an offer. If they miss a meal, have faith they will be fine until the next meal comes around.
5.) Keep calm and carry on
– Above all else, keep the peace at the table. Set this intention as you are setting the table. Trying new foods should be a positive experience. Punishing or forcing will only make matters worse. Meal time may be the only time that we really get a chance to listen to our kids – savor the conversation as much as (or more than) the food!
At Smart Lunches, we know that new foods can be scary. Some days our lunchers may want to try something new and sometimes the old stand-bys hit the spot. Check out our menu, we’ve got the perfect mix.