How to raise an adventurous eater
Updated: Jun 22
After years of experience with my own children, I came up with these 8 tips to help your child create positive relationships with food and become a more adventurous eater.
It may seem like a pipe dream right now, but your child has the potential to fall in love with all kinds of food. And from my own experience I know that the more adventurous my children eat, the more likely they are to consume a balanced and nutritious diet.
Breastmilk or infant formula is all that babies need until around six months. However, the second half of a baby’s first year of life is the stage when he or she learns much about food and family eating. This is the window of time when babies are curious and keen to find out about new foods.
Take advantage of this window and introduce a variety of textures, tastes and smells. At their first birthday you should aim to have your baby eat the same foods as the rest of the family — wouldn’t that be nice?
But don’t blame yourself or be discouraged if that does not work, some babies aremore enthusiastic than others to try new foods (as I soon found out).
While one of my twins would practically lunge at the spoon offered to her, the otherwould spit most of it out. I kept offering her a variety of food and today I would say sheis almost an adventurous eater.
Serve a variety
A varied diet means offering foods from all the food groups, and in different colorsand textures and also cooked with different methods.
When my kids get used to eating the same foods and flavors over and over, they aren’tas likely to want to try new things. They get bored. So, instead, serve new dishesalongside something you know they will eat.
When you serve a new food and your child ignores it, don’t worry. Eventually, afterseeing a new food enough times and seeing you eat it they will be more willing to try it.
Funny enough, if you don’t like the taste of something, chances are your child will alsonot enjoy it.
Don’t become a short-order cook
Let’s face it, time is not on our side most days, myself included. Having 3 youngchildren, a house to run and a full-time job, it’s a small miracle I manage to preparenutritious home-cooked meals every day.
At dinner time I prepare one meal and one meal only. Yes, I’m a chef by profession but I’m not willing to be a short order cook for my children. That being said, I do try to provide a mix of child-friendly foods with items that myself and my husband enjoy. It works for us, so why not give it a try?!
What if my child refuses to eat dinner or try a new food I have prepared? First, let it go.If they don’t eat, they don’t eat.
The dinner table should be a relaxed place to eat together as a family and share timewith each other. Again, your job is to provide healthy food, not to get a child to eat ifthey refuse.
If you have acted like this before, don’t worry — it may take a while to undo any habitsyour family has formed, so be patient.
Don’t bribe your child
Ok, I will admit that I am guilty of occasionally using bribes to get my children to cooperate. But, when it comes time to eat their dinner I’m not a fan of, nor do I recommend the old outdated advice of “finish your plate”.
The unspoken rule in our house is that to get a dessert you have to have eaten a goodamount of what was served up to them or at least have shown a good effort to tastethose foods.
We don’t bribe the girls with it as we don’t offer dessert after every dinner. When weoffer it, especially on weekdays, it is also fairly nutritious and usually consists ofchopped fruit on yogurt.
You can make it part of your routine, but don’t use it as a bribe — it won’t encouragethem to become an adventurous eater.
Get them involved
Include your children in the preparation of meals. Not every day, of course, because it’s always messy, more time-consuming and not always practical. So, choose a more relaxed day to do this and let them pick out a recipe and make a point to go shopping for the ingredients together.
Pizzas or wraps are great meals to prepare together. Let them chop mushrooms with abutter knife or smash up nuts in a mortar and pestle. Make it fun!
With that, you start teaching them that food brings positive experiences in life:
show them pictures in cookbooks or cooking magazines;
take them with you to the farmers market;
point out an interesting new restaurant when you drive by;
Bonus: you are giving them a head start on learning a valuable life skill.
This tip is important for obvious reasons. If your child arrives at the dinner tablealready satiated, they are way less likely to eat at all — much less taste new foods.
In our house, I try to stop giving snacks around two hours before mealtime. Easier saidthan done, I know. Sometimes I allow for some chopped-up raw veggies to tide themover.
Try to offer a snack in the afternoon that contains protein, like a boiled egg, cottagecheese or some of the Moqqi veggie snacks. Trust me. This will keep your childsatiated longer.
Persistence is key to raising an adventurous eater
Repetition. When offering any new food to your kids, you may have to serve it 10 timesbefore they voluntarily pick it up and start eating it. When they do finally start tastingit, don’t make a big deal about it!
You’ll want to offer new foods frequently, versus once a month. Repeated exposures help kids accept new foods.
One final note: while implementing all of these tips, my main goal is to be positive withmy kids and encourage them to try new things. They have a huge sense of satisfactionwhen they see how many new foods they are eating.
The effort is worth it as the wider the range of food experiences, the more likely a childis to continue to eat a variety of foods from the five food groups and gain the essentialnutrients for good health.
We mentioned Moqqi’s snacks before, but have you met us? Our business is all aboutgetting kids excited about healthy eating and easing parents lives. . Follow us on social media for some tips and inspiration!