Up until this week, the only vegetables my preschooler hadn’t turned his nose up at were cucumbers and green salads. It’s oddly difficult to admit this as a dietitian, because I feel as though my kids should be adventurous little eaters with Brussels sprouts and quinoa as favourite foods. (But I also know as a dietitian that’s just nonsense.) So what have mealtimes and snacks looked like in our home?
While there are many strategies I’ve tried and implemented, primarily we avoid the “please-take-one-bite” pleas and stick with Ellyn Satter’s division of responsibility:
1. Parents choose the what, when, and where of eating...
2. The kids determine how much and whether to eat.
However, even though I know these guidelines are great and all... I still get frustrated just like any other parent when my kid refuses to try something for the umpteenth time.
But then in the midst of seemingly daily mealtime frustrations, this said kid surprised me this week.
One day my preschooler tried and liked roasted broccoli. The next night mashed potatoes. He couldn’t even tolerate the texture of potatoes as an infant! Then the next night he was eating a chicken chili with kidney beans, onions, corn, and peppers. This was huge as peppers were always his LEAST favourite vegetable. (Okay, technically peppers are fruits but to a little kid they qualify as vegetables.) And to top it off, Tuesday he munched on some RAW vegetable sticks from this veggie platter we made together for a Christmas party.
Now I’m not saying all of this to humble brag about how great our dinners are... (Remember: We’ve had our fair share of difficult and embarrassing meal times in the past three years.) I’m sharing this to encourage you that sometimes kids will surprise you. Their taste buds may change, or they will try something new. Just keep offering (not forcing) the foods that aren’t their favourite with ones they like, and one day they might pick up that food and surprise you, too!
Oh and if you ask my preschooler what’s his favourite food? I can guarantee he will still answer with his typical “chocolate” or “cake” or “dessert” response. And that’s okay. (I don’t blame him.)
Side note: I also try to let him prepare meals with me (in opposition to my control freak tendencies) which has definitely helped in the picky eating department lately.
With all of this in mind, please remember that every child is beautifully different and has individual needs when it comes to eating. Don’t get caught comparing your children’s eating habits with mine or another mom’s kids. Instead, plan a visit with your doctor or paediatric dietitian if there’s something you’re concerned about or if you need some new mealtime strategies in your toolbox.
What strategies do you use to expand your child’s taste palate? Let me know in the comments below!
Hello, I'm Erin – a follower of Christ, wife, mama of two, and registered dietitian. Welcome to my blog where I write about intentional motherhood, intuitive eating, inspired discipleship, and whatever else I feel like!
Follow Erin on Instagram