A lot of kids can be really fussy with what they eat, leaving parents despairing at another night of pizza and fries. Here are some handy tips on how to get your kids to be a little bit more adventurous in their meal choices.
Offer up options
It sounds simple enough but believe it or not, the most important thing to do is to offer up different types of food. Sometimes you can get stuck in the cycle of just cooking things you know your children are going to like and don’t offer them anything new to try. A great time to subtly introduce a few different dishes is at a party or a barbeque. The kids will be feeling naturally more adventurous and will be working up a major appetite. Check out how to grill crab cakes for your next barbeque and you’d be surprised at just how much your normally seafood-adverse kids love them.
Having a buffet-style dinner can also help encourage your kids to try new things. Rather than giving them a plate full of scary foods they don’t recognize, offer a choice of all different things that they can pick and choose from. This way they can take a nibble of everything and anything, rather than being overwhelmed at having to eat an entire portion.
Make a game of it
Make food more fun! Use lots of colourful ingredients or try cutting the food into fun shapes to make it more appealing. Reward them for trying new things, rather than bribing them or coaxing them into it. You can set up a sticker chart and offer prizes; easily obtainable at first to incentivize them. And once they try a new food they like, the eating of it will be its own reward! There are also plenty of healthy eating apps and games aimed at kids that can make mealtimes much more fun.
Get them involved!
Getting the kids involved in the cooking process can pique their interest in trying new things and leave them eager to taste the fruits of their labour. This can start at the grocery store or the farmers market, get their input when doing your shopping and let them pick out new things. Even something as simple as having them set the table can help them feel more involved in the process and get them excited for mealtimes. Depending on the age of your children you can get their help with the cooking itself; for example, whisking eggs or tearing lettuce. Or, you can let them loose with a meat tenderizer if they’re coordinated enough!
The most important thing to remember when trying to break bad eating habits is not to force it! Keep consistently introducing new things and be patient with them, just because they don’t try it one day doesn’t mean they won’t warm to it next time.