When children are learning to eat for the first time, they typically are open to anything.
However, once they discover that food is not created the same all the time, they start becoming picky and they lose their sense of adventure with food.
As parents, fussiness with eating can be a problem but it is something that is rather easy to overcome. Conscious practices and demonstrating certain behaviors have the power to convert your little ones’ inclination to stick to the same foods all the time.
So, rounded up below are some proven effective ways to inspire your kids to be more adventurous eaters and explore new foods.
- Ease them into it
Do not nag your children to try something new.
When it comes to food, it never pays to have a battle of the wills. When you nag, even if the kids end up “not hating” the food, they will associate it with a negative experience.
Also, the unpleasant experience will stay with them for a long time, and every time there’s unfamiliar food around, they may automatically think that things are just going to take a turn for the worse.
Therefore, make the experience easy.
Encourage them to give something a try to see if they would like it or not. With this approach, even if the little ones do not initially like the new food, they are likely to give it another chance in the future.
- Display your own enthusiasm
Kids look up to their parents and actually feed off of their parents’ emotions. Thus, if you show interest and enthusiasm in trying a particular kind of food for the first time, your children may mirror your own behavior.
For example, if your family will be going to a Japanese cuisine restaurant for the first time and you know that there will be all kinds of sushi and fusion dishes to try, do not hesitate to express your excitement.
Most likely, your eagerness will rub off on your kids as well. And, when they see that you actually enjoy the food, they will be more than ready to give it a try.
- Hype up food and make it a learning experience
Children’s curiosity about unfamiliar cuisines can drive them to sample new food. Hype the food up by finding background information about it until your little one demands the food.
One easy way of hyping up food is by watching “mukbang” videos on YouTube.
These eating videos often feature different kinds of cuisine and people who enjoy them immensely. There’s nothing like a good “mukbang” to trigger your kids’ curiosity about the food they have never tried before.
- Be careful about “labeling” food
It always helps to be mindful of the way you refer to certain types of food.
Say, you are on a diet, do not be too quick to say that rice is bad for you in front of your children. They may wonder why it’s bad but more likely will assume that it’s something they should not eat as well and may start to shun it.
- Combine new foods with your children’s favorites
This is an easy way to get them to sample something new. For example, if your children like burgers, try different recipes for the burger by adding healthy ingredients.
You can boost its nutritional value by making it a half-veggie, half-meat patty. Your children may detect a bit of a difference with the appearance, taste, and texture, but since it looks familiar, they may eat it without protest and end up liking it.
- Don’t give up too easily when the kids express their dislike
Children are known to change their mind about certain foods over time. So, do not be too quick to ban “disliked” ingredients or dishes.
Different recipes can turn “yucky” ingredients into “yummy” in a snap.
Inspiring your kids to be more adventurous with food is not that hard.
It is all about being as creative as you can, practicing patience, being enthusiastic about food and eating, and making their eating experiences meals to look forward to.
Jenene Bronwin Batts is the Senior Marketing Coordinator at Tourism Development & Investment Company or TDIC. She oversees website maintenance, PR requests, marketing initiatives and all general guests’ enquiries for the company’s destinations, including KOI Restaurant & Lounge and Boa Steakhouse in Abu Dhabi.