Children aren’t generally known for being adventurous eaters, and once they decide what they like, it can be difficult to convince them to try anything new. Raising a kid who is willing to try new things isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. It takes some effort on your part and a commitment to teaching your child that different isn’t scary. The good news is, the sense of adventure with new foods can also translate into a child who is open to new experiences in other aspects of life as well.
Make It Personal
Introduce your child to the cuisines of different cultures by using friends as a starting point. Ask friends of different cultural backgrounds to help by inviting them to dinner and asking if they would help you to prepare a meal from their background. Explain to your child ahead of time that your friends are going to share some special food that is important to their culture and heritage.
By bringing friends into the picture, you aren’t asking your child to try something new for no reason; instead you are making a special night of it and sharing something new and exciting with company. The food is no longer something random and strange, but something with personal meaning that your child can relate to people who are friends. After the big night, you might find your child not only amenable to the new food, but actually requesting it!
How Does Your Garden Grow?
Introduce your child to new fruits and vegetables by growing a garden of fresh, healthy choices in your own backyard. Make it a family project and give your child a job to do in every stage of the process, from choosing what to plant to sowing the seeds, watering the plants and harvesting the results. A child who is invested in the process of growing food will be far more interested in eating the food when it reaches the table.
If growing your own fruits and vegetables isn’t possible, you can still reap some of the benefits by taking your child out to select fresh produce at a farmer’s market, or even at a berry picking farm or orchard. Choosing what will wind up on the table from the wide variety available will encourage your child to pick new things and give them a chance.
Serve New Things in Old Ways
Taking a new food and preparing it in a familiar way is a good way to get your child to at least give the new choice a try. Toss vegetables in a cheesy sauce and serve them up just like macaroni and cheese. Make a pizza from flatbread, veggies and a little cheese sprinkled on top, and bake to crispy perfection. Serve pita chips with hummus instead of tortilla chips and salsa. Making simple substitutions with new foods will introduce them to your child without the scariness of something entirely foreign.
Make It a Habit
Try new things regularly so that it becomes part of the routine and doesn’t take your child by surprise. When adventurous eating becomes a part of your family philosophy, it will become easier to get your children on board.
Remember that the more your kids see you trying new things, the more they will want to try them as well. Make it a group effort and you will wind up with a child who is up for anything, and not just at the table. You will also raise a child who is a little more open to new experiences in life.