For all parents, there’s something that they have to fight their kids about wanting to do. And while things like putting their shoes away or remembering to say “please” or “thank you” are important, ensuring that your children have the proper nutrition is arguably one of the most important things you can do for their health. But in many families, getting your kids to eat healthy foods or try new foods that don’t come from a drive-thru can be a real challenge. So to help you get your kids to eat the foods you know they should be eating, here are three things you can do to open their minds to trying different foods.
Give Them A More Active Role
Depending on the age and personality of your child, fights about food may be more about control than about the actual food you’re trying to get them to eat. Luckily, you can use this to your advantage by giving your kids a more active role when it comes to picking out foods and preparing meals. According to the Mayo Clinic, having your kids come with you to the grocery store and picking out a new, healthy food they’d be willing to try can make them more open to actually eating it when they get back home. Additionally, if you allow them to help in making the food, be it washing or cutting it or even cooking it on the grill, they may take more ownership in that food and be excited to try it themselves.
Decrease Portion Sizes
When you have a new food that you’re wanting to your child to try, you might give them a portion size that you’d like for them to eat rather than a realistic portion size that they might actually consume. If you do this, you may actually be setting yourself up for failure because you’re intimidating your child by thinking they have to eat all or nothing of this food. To combat this, Karen Cicero and Ocana Perez, contributors to Parents.com, suggest that you decrease the portion size of any new foods you give your kids. Start with just one bite. By showing them how easy that one bite is and then being very happy if and when they eat it, you’ll be encouraging them to slowly try more of that new food in the future.
While you might just want to throw in the towel after your child refuses to try something you’re serving for the fifth time, Dr. Tanya Altmann and Beth Saltz, contributors to Today.com, share that it can take up to a dozen times of a child being exposed to a new food before they get up the courage to try it. So even if you think you’re not making any progress, try to consistently keep introducing the food so that your child can slowly but surely get used to it.
If you’re wanting your children to be more open-minded about eating new or healthier foods, consider using the tips mentioned above to help you find ways to accomplish this.