Want your child to eat a wider variety of foods, but it feels that you tried everything?
Know that you are not alone, it is one of the top concerns parents have about their kids! Read our top tips below, they might give you some new ideas.
Our most important tip: Try not to stress about it, often it is ‘just a phase’…
Although it might feel that your child eats all the wrong foods, relax most children already do get most of the nutrients they need. Of course, we could all benefit from more fruit & veg and a more balanced diet, but let’s try to take baby steps and try not to do too much in one go. Every step forward is progress! Every new food your child tries is an achievement for a real picky eater!
Lots of research has taught us that the most effective way to start eating and liking new foods is by food exposure. You can increase your child’s exposure in lots of different ways. As your child spends most of their time at home, the food you have at home has the largest impact on their food liking and consumption. Why not try to buy something a little different next time you go shopping? We as adults often get into a rut of eating the same foods every week too!
As parents we are real role models to our children, and it is thus important to eat together. Showing that we enjoy foods, setting the table nicely, and having a variety of foods on the table will all help your child try different foods. Also the way we present food on the plate should be kept in mind. Although the food may taste great if it doesn't look nicely presented it may not be appealing to your children. I almost always set the table with different foods of which everyone can choose what and how much to serve themselves with (obviously up to a limit ;).
The food served on the table tends to be some staple food of which I generally know the kids will like, with different ingredients served separately around it to create the full meal. A few times a week, I also serve a little taster plate for everyone. This is a tiny plate (a tea bag holder in fact!), with pea sized amounts of new foods, or differently served foods. It is just to try a food before they commit to putting more on their plate.
Numerous research articles have shown forcing foods on kids has the opposite effect and they may start to resent that food. It’s a hard one to get rid of, as it’s how many of us were raised ourselves (sorry Mum & Dad!). You may still remember that one food that you were forced to eat, and now still resent? Making food fun and not forcing it is a great way in ensuring your kids will find foods they really enjoy.
And on that point, whilst having our dinner, I try not to observe my kids too much, or what they choose and eat… although I must admit, this isn’t always easy. I wouldn’t want to be closely observed about what I exactly put in my mouth either!!
The only real no-no on our table (aside from fighting and general rudeness), is to use strong negative words around food. Negative words reinforce the bad impression the child has with the food, and will influence others around the table too. Instead, after trying a new food, I ask them to rate the food by putting their thumbs up, I am often pleasantly surprised how often the thumbs actually go (halfway) up!
Encouraging your children to learn about new foods can broaden their interest in eating new ones too. Finding new recipes that your children engage with can be an exciting experience and create a positive environment where they look forward to trying something new.
Hopefully this has given you some food for thought … We would love to hear how you get on in your journey with your children enjoying delicious healthy foods. Let us know!
Sade & Cindy, EdiBee
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