“But I don’t like it!” “Yuck!” “Ewww!” Sound familiar? How many times have you heard these words come out of your child’s mouth? Often we hear our children say these words before they have had even one bite of a new food.
Developing a taste for a new food is a learning process. When it comes to fruits and vegetables it is especially important to eat a variety because fruits and vegetables are the primary source of vitamins that growing bodies need to be healthy and fight diseases.
Most children need to try a new food at least 10 to 15 times before they develop a taste for it; so keep trying! Here are some tricks from Dr. Sears L.E.A.N. Coaches to help you expand your child’s palate:
1. Use “The bite rule” to encourage the reluctant eater. "Take one bite, two bites..." (How ever far you think you can push it without force-feeding). The bite rule at least gets your child to taste a new food, while giving her some control over the feeding.
2. Share it. If your child is going through a picky-eater stage, invite one of your child’s friends over who is the same age or slightly older whom you know "likes to eat." Your child will catch on. Group feeding lets the other kids set the example.
3. Dip it. Children (and adults) think that immersing foods in a tasty dip is pure fun (and delightfully messy). Some possibilities to dip into: Cottage cheese or tofu dip, cream cheese, fruit juice-sweetened preserves, guacamole, peanut butter, pureed fruits or vegetables, yogurt (plain or sweetened with juice concentrate). Those dips serve equally well as spreads on apple or pear slices, bell-pepper strips, rice cakes, bagels, toast, or other nutritious platforms.
4. Package it. Appearance is important. For something new and different, why not use your child's own toy plates for dishing out a snack? Our kids enjoy the unexpected and fanciful when it comes to serving dishes – anything from plastic measuring cups to muffin tins.
5. Creative cuts. Using a small cookie cutter, cut the vegetables into interesting shapes.
6. Steam your greens. They are much more flavorful if they are gently steamed (just a few minutes) and usually sweeter than when raw.
7. Be persistent! It will pay off and your child will thank you later.
These healthy tips to help expand your child’s palate are taught by Dr. Sears L.E.A.N Coaches - certified individuals who train parents and organizations to help children live healthier lives through Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition.