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As a nutrition and fitness professional, it is great to see that the advice I give to clients holds true when my role as a mother takes over. I know that if I want my clients to put their trust in me, I have to walk the talk. The same is true for parents. We need to be consistent with our efforts in getting our children to try (and like!) vegetables. It will most likely take several attempts before our children will have a true like or dislike for a new food, and it will take even more time for our children to learn to visually
recognize the food.
Since the food is somewhat foreign to them, this recognition must happen before they will think about putting it near their mouth! So just how can you get your children to try new foods and eventually like them, without the frustration? Well, here are my top five ways
that have proven to be successful for my family and others I have worked with:
1. I eat it!
My kids see my husband and I eating vegetables. It has taken approximately a year, but now I can happily say that both of our children are enjoying lettuces of all sorts because they “want to eat salad like mommy and daddy.”
2. Put a previously introduced food into an adult dish.
My kids love my glass ramekins and I truly believe that was why they both finally tried (and loved!) cucumbers! Even if I still need to cut the seeds out for my son...
3. Have a color-coded meal.
Create a family activity by asking your kids to choose a color. Then, head to the supermarket and let them pick out healthy foods in that color family.
4. Make movie night a “raw” night.
Our favorite evening is movie night! Instead of the usual popcorn and soda, I serve veggies, fruit, yogurt, hummus, cheese, chickpeas and shrimp cocktail. During these “raw” mealtimes, I always introduce something new, such as raw pole beans or colored bell peppers. My daughter now (somewhat) likes orange bell peppers and they both like raw pole beans. I have movie night to thank for that!
5. Take them to the supermarket and let them choose (and help prepare) the meal.
I know it has been said many times over, but it truly works! Now, I cannot say that they will actually eat it (I typically have a backup meal on hand), but it’s fun for everyone and you may be pleasantly surprised when they actually try their chosen new food!
So there you have it! Not science, just my personal experience (with a side order of professional advice). Oh and one other thing – I personally feel it is not a good idea to force new foods on them, as it could potentially lead to conflict. Family dinners are to be relaxing and enjoyable!
Have some proven tips of your own to share? Leave us a comment below. And visit our Healthy Eats
pinboard for some kid-friendly recipes!