Two weeks ago, we received a comment from one of our readers in response to our post on feeding children healthily. In the post the reader, who has worked with children for the last 20 years, gave two specific recommendations for helping kids learn to love healthy food. We loved what she had to say, and her suggestions are easily implementable; scroll to the bottom of this post to see the comment. One point that hit home for us is “to make sure you are always offering a variety of foods prepared differently to offer a range of tastes, sounds, temperature, and oral motor work”. You’ve heard us say it again and again: prepare, serve and eat a rainbow; similarly, focusing on variety on how food tastes and feels is a key rule when feeding yourself and your family, no matter the age.
Eating is a multi-sensory experience. It’s about how food feels in your hands and mouth, about how it sounds when you bite into it, and the sensation you have when swallowing it. This sensory experience makes food fun; therefore, continually presenting a variety of textures is a great way to make sure that your little eater remains interested in healthy food. As the comment highlights, if you child doesn’t like her carrots steamed try to serve them roasted, in a soup, shredded in a salad, or made as a side cooked with milk (my mom’s favorite way to prepare them). Similarly, serve your spinach in a salad one day, creamed the next, and wilted the day after that. Or, try apples fresh and crisp, as a sauce, or roasted with some cinnamon. Pick just about any fruit or vegetable, the options are endless!
Variety is also important developing the taste buds and eating habits of your child. It is amazing that a vegetable or fruit can taste so different when prepared in different ways, particularly if you aren’t afraid to introduce spices and herbs. And, a child will try anything, if he or she genuinely believes and sees that you are eating it with pleasure as well. We understand that it takes patience and commitment to continually change your menu in the effort to offer different eating experiences to your children, but this is the preparatory work for creating an adventurous eater. And it is a great way for you to ensure that you consume a balanced and varied diet as well. Children want to eat what you eat, and while they might refuse to try that roasted asparagus for 19 times, the 20th time could be that lucky moment when your child realizes that asparagus (in a soup, versus steamed or raw) is actually pretty good.
So keep up your good work, try something different this week and let us know what you think. Come and cook with us!