Meal times can be a real struggle when your children give some foods the cold shoulder. They often decide that they don’t like a food for no particular reason other than they no longer want to eat it. Out of desperation, we end up only giving them what they like or meals that are not very healthy such as pasta with ketchup or all meals with ketchup! Mental blocks are normal and everyone can lose their appetite at some point. For adults it is often because of stress for example. However that does not mean that a child should not eat at all.
There are no miracle techniques but giving your children an introduction to food can greatly help to broaden and vary their diet. It can also make meal times a moment of discovery and fun! After all, that is the most important thing. It is important to want to eat, to share and enjoy your food and not to reluctantly sit down for dinner!
1) Everyone has the same meal
Everyone eats the same thing especially vegetables. However you can adapt the textures of the veggies. One day it is dad’s favourite dish, the next mum’s and the favourite dessert of your child another. Therefore everyone can have something they like!
2) The kitchen is open to everyone
Keep you children with you while you cook while of course respecting safety regulations. Explain what you are making and show them the ingredients. See if it attracts their attention. They won’t be able to resist tasting the food and asking lots of questions. This is the ideal moment for them to discover lots of food and condiments. So that you can spark their curiosity, you need to get rid of processed meals and get cooking. Good luck!
3) Expected rituals
Following the seasons we don’t eat the same things. If you always eat a soup Sunday night then have a good dollop of fresh gaspacho in summer and butternut soup in winter. You can choose in season vegetables for your soups! If your children like lasagnas they might also like trying a vegetable lasagna. You should test out new foods with your children to introduce them to a variety of flavours.
4) Try different dishes using the same food
Raw onions are nothing like cooked onions. Show your children that it is the process of preparing your ingredients that makes the difference and that the flavour of food can completely change depending on how it has been prepared. Ask your child to describe the food and what flavours they are experiencing in their mouth or smells. It could be sweet, acidic, bitter, buttery….
5) You can only judge what you have tried
It is like the saying “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover”. The same goes for food. All you need to do is try a little portion and if you don’t like it explain your reasons. It might be too spicy, have a weird texture in the mouth, too salty… But there is no alternative menu for those who don’t like it.
6) Talk about food
If your children eat at the canteen, at the nanny’s or at a friend’s house, they will no doubt discover new dishes or eat something unknown to them. This is an opportunity to talk about food to see if they have discovered something else they like and why. What’s more it could give you some other ideas!
7) Do the food shop with your children
What is more appetising than pretty vegetables that are full of colour and delicious smells in the supermarket aisles or beautiful fruit freshly picked for a tree? It can be fun to figure out the different shapes of the fruit and vegetables. It is also fun to pick you own fruit from the garden if you have one as they can see exactly where it comes from. These moments in the supermarket and outside can be fun, entertaining and a great learning experience!