Want your kids to be more adventurous at dinner time?
Getting kids to eat different and new foods can be a challenge at times and I am sure all parents will struggle with this at some point in their lives. The struggle comes from not wanting to wage war during dinner time, forcing your child to eat or giving up entirely and letting the child eat whatever they want. I usually cook dinner most nights and I only cook one dinner. I refuse to cook multiple meals to please every one's appetite, I mean if I wanted to be a short order cook, I would get a job at a restaurant.
So how does one get their kids to eat without dinner time turning into a battle of the wits? Here are some of the tips that really have helped me in helping my kids eat better and not be so picky.
1. Don't disguise food. Lately, it seems everything I read about raising healthy eaters involve some sort of trickery, disguising food so your child does not realize they're actually eating healthy. This is a mistake; if you disguise everything to taste like chicken nuggets, you've only managed to enforce to your child that the only food they should like is chicken nuggets. This could really backfire on you down the road.
2. You have to try everything every time. We have a rule in our house: You must try everything on your plate every time. Just because they didn't like meatloaf the last time I served it, doesn't get them a free pass to not try it this time. I realize that my kids are not going to like everything I make, they are real people with their own tastes and preferences, but they still have to try it. When I say "try it", I mean one bite, not eat everything on their plate. When serving a main dish that I know is not a favorite, I do try to serve side dishes that I do know they like.
3. Model good eating habits. Since instituting rule #2, I have also applied the same rule to myself. If I expect my children to follow this rule, so can I. If you are not willing to eat the veggies how can you expect your kids to be excited about them?
4. Don't force kids to clean their plates. I just do not like this idea as I feel it sends the wrong message about food.
5. Deflect the attention away from the food. When my kids are about to try something they're less than thrilled about trying I ask a fun question right as they're taking the bite. Engaging them in a conversation I know they'll be excited to talk about. I find that if I can deflect the attention on something other than the food, they'll end up forgetting about what they're eating and finish most of it before they realize what happened. I have found that if my husband or I make a big deal out of taking just that one bite and silently wait for a reaction we get a dramatic display of how terrible the food tasted.
6. Make dinner time fun. Create a fun dinner time atmosphere, where everyone tells funny stories, jokes and talks about their day. My kids love to cook, so I try to find something for them to help with as I am preparing dinner and they get more excited about the food, they "cooked" themselves.