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Nourish Family Nutrition & Therapy

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Be Considerate, Not Catering To Your Children

Learning to enjoy new foods is challenging for both kids and adults. One of the things dietitians frequently discuss in child and family appointments is how long it takes kids learn to enjoy foods. It might take up to 20 or more exposures to a food before a child can taste food and learn to enjoy it. There are many ways to provide exposures to foods, but most people think about exposures at mealtimes. An easy way to expose kids to new foods is to provide the same meal for everyone who will be eating dinner. While we don’t want to short order cook, we also don’t want to push kiddos toward foods that they aren’t comfortable with or have them go to bed hungry. We can think of being considerate to the kiddo’s wants and needs without catering to them.

Here’s an example of how this works in my household. My kiddos know the rule – that the adult will prepare a meal, but they get to decide what goes on their plates. I always offer at least one thing that everyone likes. When I’m making an entrée that I know is not a favorite, I always make extra side options so that there is plenty of food to fill up on. One of my favorite foods is salmon, but the kids are still learning to like it. My son will eat a decent portion, but it’s not his favorite. My daughter is still deciding whether she likes it. Recently, she built her plate, and I added a small piece of salmon. I also added dipping sauce so that she can add a flavor she knows she likes. In this case, I made a lemon butter sauce. The rest of the plate is filled with some family favorites including brussels sprouts, asparagus, potatoes, and cornbread because I want to make sure she gets a full stomach. She initially ate everything but the salmon, then went for seconds of veggies and potatoes, and then tried the salmon and ate about half of it with the sauce.

This is a no pressure approach to feeding that can help kids learn to enjoy new foods and learn to trust themselves and build confidence in their food choices. If your child struggles with picky eating or any other nutrition concerns, please schedule an appointment with one of our child/family specialists!

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