This is a guest post by Jenna, who blogs at Food with Kid Appeal with a focus on healthy cooking and an amazing knack for helping all parents inspire kids to try new foods. For more tips, check out Jenna’s list of 15 common feeding problems.
I polled my readers to find out the 5 most common reasons why kids to opt out of food. Next to each one I’ve suggested some responses you can practice saying. When the window of opportunity presents itself you’ll have something more effective to say than “just try it.”
Sight alone, food refusals purely from looking at the dish, was on the top of the list. The unfortunate thing here is that most young kids don’t have enough frame of reference to use sight as a reliable indicator of taste appeal. That builds over time as they associate more colors, shapes and food presentations that do taste good.
Objection: “I don’t want that, it’s too pointy“
Response: “That is an interesting way to describe the way the pomegranate aril looks. Can you taste it and describe the way it tastes in an interesting way?“
The second most common reason food was rejected was due to a new recipe or inclusion of a new ingredient. Even preparing an accepted food in a new dish can cause complaints
Objection: “What is that? I don’t want it?“
Response “I bet this is not what you were expecting for dinner tonight. This is a new recipe, let’s taste it and see if it’s a recipe we want to make again. On a scale of 1- 10, I give it a 6. It’s got a good flavor. I’d eat it again, but I wouldn’t want it every night. What do you think?”
Mixed up dishes was third in rank for most common cause of food rejection. Casseroles, soups and salads have a lot of kids saying “I’d rather not.” Even when ingredients are accepted separately, a mélange is likely to be a show stopper. This one will fade with time; most adults enjoy dishes with more than one ingredient, so in time your tot will too.
Objection: “Fried rice? I don’t like stuff in my rice.“
Response: “Right; you prefer your food separate. When I was little I liked my food separate too, but I kept trying mixed up food and when I got bigger, I discovered that I liked it too. You can eat the veggies first and then the rice if you like.“
Next in line is texture. Hot “mushy” cereals like oatmeal, “chewy” things like mushrooms and “squishy” things like summer squash were all mentioned as commonly avoided foods.
Objection: “Eww, that was mushy!“
Response: “You know what I like to do when something I eat has in interesting texture? I take a bite of something else with it. Scoop up one chewy raisin and one crunchy nut on your spoon and chew it all up together. What do you think?“
Sibling reaction was last on the list. Some kids are fickle and tend to take the not so sage advice of siblings.
Objection: “Bubba said it’s gross, I don’t want it“
Response: “I’m not interested in what your brother thinks of this dish, I care about what you think. I’m listening to you right now. Does it smell good? How does it taste?“
Beware, none of these retorts are silver bullets, and none of them will work immediately. Growing good eaters will take time and practice just like teaching good dental hygiene. For more tips and kid tested recipes become a subscriber to Food with Kid Appeal. Every post includes a “Kid Appeal Tip” giving you a response or technique to use with your kids. I’m willing to wager that a few weeks or months your kiddos will have learned some new healthy eating habits.
At Food with Kid Appeal, Jenna blogs about her journey to feed her family whole food and grow good eaters with the obstacles of high food costs, a demanding day job, and a barrage confusing nutrition information in the news.Follow her as she nourishes her carnivore Hubby, and two sons:unfamiliar-food-protester 5 year old Big Boo and picky-palate 3 year old Little Boo.
Leave a Comment: What does your picky eater say about eating new or healthy foods? How can Jenna help you overcome your feeding challenge? Please leave a comment below, Jenna will be reading them!