If you wish your kids craved kale over candy, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Jordann Kearns can help! She stopped by to share her tips for how to raise adventurous eaters.
How to Raise an Adventurous Eater.
My favorite quote is this: "When the joy goes out of eating, nutrition suffers." When raising children we want them to have a pleasant experience at the family table in order to have positive feelings associated with eating. It is even said that these positive feelings around the table offer more for long term health than the actual food that is served during the meal.
So one of my goals with my daughter is to raise her to be an adventurous eater. When we go to a restaurant, I want a child who is willing to eat the foods off the adult menu, not just the same old boring foods on the kids' menu (ie. Hot dogs, mac & cheese, chicken nuggets, French fries).
So here are some things that we try to do in our home:
1. Keep meal times and snack times consistent.
Children do well when there is consistency with meal and snack times. We don't restrict our child from any certain foods, but we do make sure that she is eating the foods sitting down, at the table, during a meal or snack time.
2. Let children choose from the foods that are offered during a meal.
It's our job to decide what foods we offer, but let the children decide which of those foods go on their plate and how much goes in. I am not a short order cook. She eats the foods we eat but there's always going to be something familiar offered so that she feels safe. We avoid any methods of coercion to have her try new foods. We let her experiment on her own and of course we model enjoying those foods on our own.
3. Let a child "sneak up" on a new food.
My daughter and I were making Kale chips together. My daughter is very familiar with crunchy baked Kale chips, but she has never eaten Kale raw before. I shot some video that caught how she examines and "sneaks up" on this new food. This moment wouldn't have come if I hadn't involved her in the process of preparing this snack.
4. Get the kids in the kitchen.
We use something called a Learning Tower to get our daughter involved in cooking since she was old enough to stand on her own. I give her tasks she can handle, like tearing off kale leaves or mixing or add spices. I see her become much more experimental when she's been involved in the preparation.
5. Don't shy from flavor and spices.
I don't know where we got the idea that babies have to eat bland food, but let's let go of that rule. Kids need to be exposed to as many flavors as possible to help them be accepting of new foods. And it is ok to use flavor and spices on vegetables.