If you're like most parents, you're hungry for tricks to get your kiddos to eat their fruits & veggies. And lots of them.
You know that eating fruits & veggies is good for your kids - you hear this message everywhere - and you want the best for those growing little bodies. But your kids just want sugar ... as much of it as they can get their hands on. (Get candy, get candy, get candy!)
So instead of feeling like you're nailing this parenting gig, you're left feeling like a little bit of a failure - and in a constant battle between your head and your (very nagging) kids.
It's tempting to overload your littles with vegetable options. Sometimes that strategy can work: for example if your kiddos are familiar with some veggies and you pile a new one onto a platter of their favorites.
But with new fruits & vegetables, it's best to start small. REALLY SMALL. Seriously small.
Take a look at the two images below. Imagine you're two years old and you've never tasted peas ... those wrinkly little GREEN things your mother is trying really, really hard to get you to eat. You, oh wise child that you are, think "this must be something that does not taste good if she has to try this hard to convince me to taste it. Plus, LOOK AT THAT PILE! It's enormous! No way. But there's Mac & Cheese. I love Mac & Cheese. I'll eat that (and ONLY that)."
Now imagine that the plate on the right is put in front of you. You, oh wise child, think "Mac & Cheese! I love Mac & Cheese! And what are those things? They're so small. And wrinkly. I wonder what they feel like."
Suddenly, the pressure is off to eat a huge pile of an unfamiliar food, and instead you've just been given permission to explore. With all your senses. And the next time peas are put in front of you you're less likely to immediately reject them.
Before a new food becomes a regular part of your little one's diet, they need exposure - in the form of tasting, touching, smelling, cooking, cutting, tasting again, touching again, smelling again - on average 15 times before it's a food they will willingly accept. Making these exposures small in size, but frequent in number, makes the process less stressful. Plus, giving your kids the opportunity to regularly practice something - in this case tasting - will prime them for this important skill and benefit them in the long run.
You can also make tasting a little easier by using this list of hundreds of descriptive words for food and mealtime. Giving your kids language for what they tasting and how new foods are related to - and different from - other foods they know, it will help them begin to categorize and familiarize.
Happy mealtimes ARE within reach!