Kids are known to be picky eaters, and research has shown that a new food may need to be introduced to a child 15-20 times before it is accepted. For some children and toddlers, it is much less than this, for others it may even be more! Here are some simple tricks you can try to help your kids embrace your cooking and enjoy their food!
- Incorporate food they like:
If your child loves guacamole for example, add it to their evening meals where possible. You could add guacamole to a baked potato with beans and onions or have it on the side with an enchilada or on top of a rice veggie bowl. Implementing a food, they already like may encourage them to taste the meal. If peanut butter is their thing, try make a peanut based satay sauce for dinner and show them that the sauce contains peanut butter.
- Get Kids involved in meal prep
I know in some circumstances this is not possible, but if it is let them partake! Depending on their ages, they could flick the switch on the smoothie blender, mix up sauces or filling or even chop veggies or fruit with a child friendly knife. The more involved they are, the more likely they are to try it.
- Give them a choice
Allowing your child to make a choice gives them more power and they will therefore be more likely to eat the meal. You could offer 2 options (bean burritos or rice and beans). They feel like they are getting the choice and the options mean you don’t have to create 2 completely separate meals, just modify them a little.
- Meals with choice of toppings
If you are making a meal such as baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, a rice dish, wraps or tacos you can place all the toppings in separate bowls and allow the child to choose which 2 or 3 toppings they would like. Again, the power of choice will help a great deal with their willingness to eat the meal.
- Take the pressure off mealtimes
Sticking to a schedule allows you to ensure your child is actually hungry during mealtimes. Eating with the whole family at the dinner table without distractions (no iPad/TV) models healthy eating behaviors and creates good habits for them. Offering 3-4 different foods (ensuring 1 or 2 foods are something your child already enjoys) will help reduce pressure around eating at mealtime. If they are not hungry allow them to leave the meal for a period of time but do not offer any other foods unless the child has the meal first.