If parents had a dollar for every time they heard “I don’t like this,” they would be able to pay college tuition tenfold. It feels like kids think they can survive off chicken nuggets and fries forever, but sadly, nobody can. It may be time to think about other ways to integrate diverse foods to children if you’re one of those parents.
That saying “you are what you eat” is true in so many ways. When the palate receives too much of one thing, it begins to request that one thing—too often. Something as simple as limiting the consumption of sugary beverages during the day can weigh significantly on your child’s ability to want other foods. You should strive to have them swap daytime sweets for more diverse snacks like fresh fruit, veggie snacks, and water.
Portion Size Matters
Instead of filling their plate with what you think is appropriate, ask them for their involvement. It’s easier to grab more should they eat it all than fighting them to eat what they have. And typically, something with a lot of spice and flavor needs a small introduction. Asking for their input allows them autonomy in plating their food and teaches them how to portion their meals to their hunger.
Make Mealtime Fun
Yes, make mealtime fun! Not like throwing the food and making a mess on the floor fun, but more like socializing, engaging, and interacting. When you lead by example as a parent and a child feels included, they perform better at the task at hand. Ask them about their day, ask silly questions, and take the time to get to know them in an intimate setting like a meal.
It’s fair that a child does not like something on their plate. But before accepting that answer and reaching for that bag of nuggets, consider implementing the three-bite rule. This is one of the best ways to integrate diverse foods to children as it allows them control while being fair. If they still don’t like it, try again at a later date and leave it be.
What Is the Three-Bite Rule?
- The first bite initiates an assessment—this is their chance to make an immediate decision whether it’s right or wrong.
- A second bite re-evaluates the flavor. Maybe the first bite just wasn’t right.
- And a third bite is the final decision-maker. If after the third bite they still don’t like it, move on.
It’s challenging to fight the picky eater at the table. Sometimes there are tears, and other times, somebody is storming off to their room upset. While it’s acceptable to have boundaries when it comes to what the family is going to eat, it’s also fair to accept that we do not all have the same palates.