By Ashley Owens
MS, RD, CSSD, LDN
Do you ever feel that you serve the same foods to your family over and over again? Or have you ever introduced an unfamiliar food or a new recipe and there was whining, moaning and tears? Is your family in a food rut and you don’t know how to change things? Here are some simple and fun ways to bring new foods to the table.
1) Involve your children with new foods before they show up at the table. Take a look at the photo of bananas, kiwis and tangerines. If your children have never ever seen a kiwi, try letting them touch it and tell you what it feels like on the outside. You could have them guess what color is on the inside of the kiwi and let them watch as you peel it and see if their guess was right or not. For older children, you could show them this photo and have them arrange the pieces of the fruit to try to replicate the image. If you had put the cut up kiwi slices in a bowl and served it on the table, your child may have found this new and unfamiliar food alarming, squealed and said the black dots on the kiwi look like bugs.
2) Introduce a new food or an unfamiliar recipe by serving it with a familiar food. Children like routine, safety, and security, and this fact is true even when it comes to food. It may seem shocking to you that little kids can make such a big deal about a new food or dish, but their reaction to something new and strange on the table is just part of the developmental process. You could soft- en the blow further by serving the new and unfamiliar food with not just one, but two of their favorite foods. And don’t be surprised if they still do not want to try your new recipe. Children often need to see a new food numerous times before they are willing to try it. Also, seeing you eat anew food overtime can lessen their fear to try it.
3) Be very casual and relaxed when introducing the new food. For example, if your kids do not eat the kiwi, don’t scramble to find some- thing else for them to eat. Be assured that they will not go to bed vitamin C deficient. It is our job as parents to puta variety of nutritious foods on the table, but it is their job to determine if they like it or not. As one pediatric nutrition professor said years ago, can you name one food you don’t like? Why do we think it is necessary for our children to like every single food? You will find that children’s likes and dislikes change over time.