"Just Take a Bite!"

Eating together as a family is an important step to help increase food variety, as discussed in last month’s blog post. Knowing that fact I still have to resist the urge to scream, “Just take a bite!” Instead, I try to take a step back and consider how it may be fun for one person to try new food or recipes but others might resist this change. For example, a kid might look at the new food as if it were a cockroach (even if it was just baked salmon).

Let’s compare the process of trying a new food to hitting a golf ball for the first time. First, you observe someone else play the sport. Next, you might pick up and inspect the ball or golf club. Still, it might take a few more opportunities of watching and feeling (even smelling in the case of food) before you decide to swing the golf club. When ready, you may swing and miss the ball (taste then spit out the food). Then, finally hit the ball after many different exposures perhaps using different clubs (cooking the food in different ways). At the end of this process, you might like golf (or the new food), or not like it now. If not, perhaps you would learn to enjoy it in the future if given enough opportunities.

So, if I were to pressure her to eat that salmon, she might push back harder and reject eating dinner altogether. Let’s consider trying a different approach. How about having her help put seasoning on the fish? Also, bring the new food to the table along with a favorite, familiar side dish (for example corn, grapes, and/or milk). A familiar food option allows them to relax about the new food. All family members share the same foods at mealtime (salmon, corn, green beans, grapes and milk).

Be sure not to short-order cook (chicken nuggets for one child, PB&J for another and salmon for the adults, for example). Allow your child to plate his/her food and don’t pressure your child to try a bite. If having the child plate her food seems foreign, you could experiment by offering the smallest pinky-sized portion of salmon and ask permission. “Can I put this small amount on your plate” Then add, “You don’t have to eat it.”

Kids learn to like new foods by:

  • Having them offered over and over without pressure

  • Having them served with familiar foods

  • Seeing friends, older kids, and grown‐ups eating these foods

  • Tasting them prepared in different ways

  • Starting with small amounts

Both kids and adults can be resistant to a new food at the dinner table. What new food or recipe would you like to try? How will it be presented at meal or snack time?

P.S. I’m still not a fan of golf, so maybe I should try it out a few more times!

#kids #familymeals

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