To this day, when we get together at our mom and dad’s house, our mom will make a separate salad for my youngest sister (mind you, said sister is a grown mother of two herself) because Mom knows that “she doesn’t like tomatoes or avocados.” Considerate? I think not! Our mom must have a pretty engrained habit of accommodating picky eaters if she still remembers to do it when her child is 31!
Lesson #1: It’s your job to put it on their plate, it’s their job to eat it! Our family’s first pediatrician told me this and to this day, you will hear it at least once a week in our house. Don’t get caught up in what your toddler likes or doesn’t like this week, because next week it will be something different. Don’t underestimate your kids’ willingness to try new foods and for sure, don’t withhold something from them that you don’t like. With equal parts of delight and disgust, my sister’s four year old loves avocados and tomatoes! Put salad on their plate! Offer it up with a little “dippy sauce” like ranch dressing or plain yogurt. If you’ve put a balanced meal in front of them and they choose not to eat, well…breakfast is at 7:00, Champ.
Lesson #2: Experiment with new foods together! Monkey see, monkey do is more true than you can imagine when it comes to your children. Never is it more true than with eating habits and preferences. Do you turn your nose up at something new and say, “Whut is it?” They’re waaaatch-iiiiiing! Introduce foods from different regions and enjoy not only the new tastes, but dinner conversations turn international! Start small; hummus, exotic fruits, maybe a bit of a fun spice on popcorn. Show your kids that you, in fact, don’t know everything, but you do know how to learn something new and try something new. Learning to learn is a gift!
Lesson #3: Where there’s buy-in, there’s success! Make grocery lists together! Ask for their ideas–I wonder what they’ll say! Put a grocery list on the fridge that everyone is invited to add to when they are inspired to try something they saw on a movie or read in a book or heard a friend talk about. Then shop together, let them help you smell the cantaloupe or count the apples. Let them help you put the groceries away. And of course, find something they can do to help you cook. From one high-achiever to another–it’s hard to let your kids help; they slow you down, they make more messes, they’re easily distracted. But, practice makes perfect, and that goes for these little parenting opportunities, too. The payoff in their proud little faces far outweigh the extra floor clean-up.
Lesson #4: It’s all in the presentation! We all like an attractive plate. No one likes gray meat or over-cooked green beans. If you’re on a mission to get them to like some basics, try packaging it differently. Pinterest has an endless supply of ideas and inspiration for fun ways of presenting food for everyday consumption. Some of them are great time-saving ideas, too. I love the one that has you pre-pack a bunch of healthy, small snacks and store them at kid-level so that they can help themselves with permission. How fun!
This post brought to you by Jenny Leggett who is now chastising herself for making three different kinds of sandwiches everyday for her own three little turkeys’ school lunches. :/