I don't like cooked carrots. Never have and mostly likely never will. As a kid my mom would add them to soups and I would eat them. How? She would puree them. She would say if I didn't want to eat the carrots, I could “eat around them”.
Mom was never a believer in making a separate meal for us kids. Dinner was the same for everyone, no exceptions.
Fast forward to today. People ask me all the time, how do I get my kids to eat so well? Truth is I love food. I love trying things. Not all food loves me unfortunately, but I don't let that stop me. I just get more creative.
Being creative is how I shared my love of food.
We play a game. On a weekend, when things are slow, I go to the grocery store and pick one fruit/veggie and purchase one of each variety.
Lets take pears for example. I would pick up one of each kind of pear: Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, Asian, whatever you can find. Wash, Slice, label and serve. Then we would sit at the table and taste each pear.
I would ask them what they liked and didn't like about each one. Then we would vote on the “best” pear. I would make sure to buy that variety the next time I went to the store.
Rule #2 Try Everything
We eat together as a family and just like my mom, I make one dinner for the whole family. Dinner rules were strongly enforced. 🙂 Rule #2 was especially fun and very clear. “You must take one spoon/forkful of all new items on the table and explain why you like or didn't like it”.
To start dinner and show how serious I was, I would put 1 bite sized amount of each thing I made on their plates. They would have to try everything before going back for seconds. If they didn't like it and explained why, they were excused from eating that item for that meal.
It gave them control over what they ate and taught them how to articulate their thoughts and feelings – not to mention negotiating skills. 🙂
The Next Time
After a little while, the kids discovered a loop hole in Rule #2, once they tried it, there was no need to try it again. So I made an amendment to Rule #2, which said, “if a food is made with a new recipe then Rule #2 applies.”
Here is an example, mushrooms. My son strongly disliked mushrooms. The first time I made them, he was so not excited. But to his credit he tried it and didn't like the texture. With that he was excused from eating them for dinner.
I would wait 2-3 weeks then make mushrooms again for dinner – using a different recipe that took into consideration his feedback. He would try it again. (He didn't like that recipe either.)
Another 2-3 weeks pass and I made vegetarian stuff mushrooms. I cut a small one in half and put it on his plate. He tried it and LOVED IT!
I would try 3 recipes then give up.
Of course the flip side is that now they eat all kinds of stuff…. and it can get expensive! LOL. So be careful what you wish for.
Routines were big in our house when the kids were little. Everyone knew what to expect and there was little fussing. 🙂
The funny part about the dinner rules was that when we had company over for dinner, the kids would “enforce” the rules for everyone. That made for fun dinner conversation.
Anyway, that is how I passed on my love of food to my kids.
Do you have parenting tips on getting your kids to try foods? What are they?