March is National Nutrition Month. This is a great time to evaluate food choices in our lives and set goals for improvement. Evaluating what we are serving to our children is a worthwhile place to start. As parents we want our children to eat a variety of healthy foods, but are often met with resistance when offering a food that is unfamiliar. Getting our kids to try new foods can be difficult and frustrating! Here are some simple tips can help you find success when offering new foods to your growing child:
• Make sure you are offering a variety of foods on a regular basis. This helps children become familiar with a variety of flavors and textures.
• Try pairing a new food with one that is familiar. For example, try scrambling a diced vegetable into eggs or offering a new fruit choice at breakfast as a pancake topping.
• Involve your kids in planning new food choices. Invite them to learn about the food, how it grows or how it is made. Help them find a recipe and shop for it, then join them in the kitchen preparing the food.
• Model a variety of good food choices yourself. You don’t have to be an adventurous eater, but you can display a positive attitude about trying new foods to your child.
• When trying new foods ask your kids to describe the color, smell or texture instead of asking only of they like it. This helps your child to pay more attention to just how it tastes, and focus on all aspects of the new food.
• Let your children know they aren’t wrong if they don’t like it. There is no wrong or right answer when trying something new. Be positive and reward their willingness to try new foods with words of encouragement.
Think about appearance when offering new foods. A fun shape or presentation can be enticing. For example, make a small kebob out of a new fruit, or cut vegetables into exciting shapes. Kids love to dip. Try offering a dip alongside a vegetable to make eating it fun. Hummus is a great suggestion and tastes great with a variety of raw vegetables. The recipe below is kid friendly and is easy to make.
Most importantly, be patient! It often takes repeated exposure to a new food for children to embrace it. Continue to be encouraging and try again.
For more information, visit https://whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/recipes/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap/hummus.
Alisha Barton is the program assistant for the OSU’s Extension Family and Consumer Sciences, Miami County