Taste Test to Eat Best
A couple of weeks ago, my sister-in-law posted on Facebook that she needed help with her picky eater. She was tired of "sneaking" vegetables into his food and was especially tired of him refusing to eat at mealtimes. She asked if anyone had any ideas for teaching a picky eater how to try new foods and eat better.
I felt her pain. I have had many struggles with getting my own kids to eat. I've wondered how long a child can survive on a diet of chicken nuggets, quesadillas, and fruit snacks. There were many responses to her post and lots of great ideas, but one response really caught my attention. A mutual friend of ours posted a link to an article titled, "It's Not About the Broccoli." The article was based on a book written by Dr. Dina Rose, a sociologist.
(Dr. Dina Rose's book)
Dr. Rose basically tells parents to stop obsessing over getting their children to eat new foods. Rather, she says that parents should focus on teaching their children "the habit of happily tasting new foods." What's the difference you might ask? Well, when we focus on forcing our kids to eat new foods, we are only concerned about the immediate outcome of getting food into their bellies. Parents will say things like, "You can't have any dessert until you eat all of the food on your plate." She suggests that this is teaching your child to suffer through the healthy part of the meal to get to the good stuff, which further reinforces the idea that vegetables (or other heathly foods) are yucky. She also says that the fear of having to eat all of the food on their plate, or even so many bites, will cause children to have anxiety over trying new foods.
Dr. Rose's method of happily tasting new foods is a way to help children stop fearing new foods. She says that families should have tasting parties together that aren't necessarily at meal times. She proposes giving your child a tiny bite of a new food to taste. Instead of focusing on whether or not they "like" the food, talk about it subjectively. Is it juicy, salty, bitter, or sweet? Is crunchy or smooth? How does it look? How does it smell? Does it remind you of another food you have eaten? Tasting new foods in this way takes the fear out of having to eat something they aren't familiar with.
My sister-in-law gave this tasting party idea a try and this is what she said... "Tonight I told everyone at the dinner table that we were going to taste our green beans. I cut off a little tiny piece for my picky eater and the other kids put a bean in their mouth. We didn't talk about like or dislike - all we talked about was if it was salty, sweet, crunchy, sour, etc. (the taste and texture). I didn't even ask my picky eater to taste it - I just cut a little tiny piece for him. I was shocked when he put it in his mouth. Next we did cantaloupe, and he also tasted a tiny bite. We had a little tasting party and it totally worked! I know it's small, but for my picky eater this is huge!! I guess our meals are now going to include tasting parties. I am so glad I figured out a way to get him to at least taste things without a battle."
Family tasting parties may or may not work for your family, but it might be worth a shot. Wouldn't it be great to feed a family of adventurous, healthy eaters? I can't think of anything better!
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