When people see my kiddo eat, they always get surprised. Why? He is not a typical preschooler with his appetite. He doesn’t like fries, mashed potatoes, or macaroni. Instead, he has a taste for foods like teriyaki and broccoli. How did I get him to be an adventerous eater? Here are some tips to get you started.[hr]
1. Don’t go the route of, “eat all your veggies or you will not get desert” or other common forms of this with any food. This will give those foods a bad rap right off the bat by making them be forced on your kiddo. Making food good and a choice–not a forced one–will allow your kiddos to choose what they like and not have bad feelings associated with it.[hr]
2. Variety! Give them small amounts of a variety of choices and let them taste what they like. Especially if started young, this will let your kiddo get a wide range of “likes.” For the “dislikes,” try again later. Taste palates change, and what they might not have liked once, they might love later (Trust me, I went through this.).[hr]
3. Start a vegetable garden! Give your children an appreciation for the foods they eat. They can help you make your own home garden. They can help water plants and care for them. This will give them a sense of pride as they see the vegetables grow and go from garden to kitchen. Imagine your children’s faces as the vegetables they cared for help feed their family. Of course they will want to try it! Plus, all the home-grown produce will help your wallet.[hr]
4. Get your kiddos involved in the food shopping! This will help you in the long run. Most times you see kiddos who are bored and crying in the aisles, but not your kids! Make them a shopping list according to age. When smaller, use pictures of the items they are shopping for, and when older, use words and pictures to encourage sight recognition and, later, reading. This will keep them occupied and interested in the food.
5. Get them in the Kitchen! For a very long time I had a fear of my child being in the kitchen. It was completely off-limits because of the risk of burns and sharp knifes with sticky little fingers. But one day I realized that while I was protecting my child, I also was causing him harm by not allowing him to experience the joy of cooking! Now my kiddo helps me peel potatoes and cut carrots and clean and wash other foods. I help him look into the pot as I cook, and he gets excited over our meals. As we eat, he can’t stop telling other family members, “I helped cook”. So of course he tries everything he helped make! For your kiddos, kitchen duties will be based on age so think of ways to incorporate them into the prep work.
6. Try theme nights! Why not set a day of the week or twice a month to explore foods out of your normal range? Try different cultural foods and restaurants. Who knows? Maybe you will find brand new favorites! If you don’t explore other foods, how will you ever know if you like them or not?
7. And of course my best advice: lead by example! Children want to be just like mommy and daddy (their heroes, of course). If they see their parents being adventurous eaters, they will copy you. So, set a good example and try something new yourself!