(aka: beating my son at the picky-eating-game)
I have a nine year old who lives on meat, yogurt, and rolls. Oh, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. That’s pretty much it. You can add macaroni and cheese from time to time, count on green beans about once a week, and you might be able to bribe him to try some carrot sticks as well. Of course, he LOVES anything with sugar or loaded with carbs.
He’s nine, though, and he knows that I am not exactly thrilled with his eating habits. He needs more vegetables. He needs fruits. He does NOT need any more bread! Here are a few ideas that we’re trying to get him to be a better eater:
- We try to put something “new” or “like new” on his plate at every meal. He doesn’t have to like it, but he does have to try it. And, not some microscopic bite either. After his bite, we let him rate the food with a thumbs-up, thumbs-down sign. He gets to vote, and we get him to try something different.
- At nine, we can explain the importance of healthy foods to our son and the need to go easy on sugary snacks while choosing healthier foods more often. It is harder with younger children. One thing that worked with my class of pre-k kids was to give them grocery ads and magazines. They cut out foods that they found and we placed them on a chart of healthy and not healthy choices. Posting something like this in the dining room or kitchen is a great reminder of what our bodies need. Then, discuss where the foods that you are eating belong on the chart.
- Sometimes, my son is more apt to eat something if he helps prepare it. He’s a whiz at fruit smoothies in the blender and “ants on a log” (celery with peanut butter and raisins arranged on top).
- My son knows that trying a food just once isn’t good enough. When he was little, we told him that he had to “grow” those taste buds in order to enjoy a food. So, our rule at our house is “ten”. New foods must be tried ten times before a decision is made. Surprisingly, trying broccoli (with lots and lots of cheese) went from “yuck!” to “not so bad” over those ten tries!
What are some of your ideas for getting kids to try new foods? Share them in the comments!