NDSU Extension - Morton County

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August 13, 2018 Convert Kids from Picky to "Pick Me!" Eaters

Vanessa Hoines, Extension Agent, Family and Community Wellness

Convert Kids From Picky to “Pick Me!” Eaters

Getting kids to eat new foods is an important part of learning healthful eating habits, and it begins at the family dinner table.

It’s a task that requires consistency and perseverance. The No. 1 tip for parents is to make sure they are setting a good example for their kids by eating and enjoying their meal.

Here are some other tips and tricks to help guide kids toward enjoying new, healthful foods:

  • Implement a rotation of the foods your kids already like. By developing a schedule of alternating foods every day (even if they are familiar foods), kids will adapt to having different meals each day. This will make introducing new foods into the mix easier to do.
  • Take the surprise out of new food. No one likes the unfamiliar, especially children with food. If they do not know what they are getting into before taking a bite, they are less likely to try anything new. To help ease this uncertainty, describe the food before kids taste it, using description such as “this is crunchy” or “this is squishy like applesauce.”
  • Make simple changes for an easier transition. Introduce changes gradually by using an accepted flavor or texture to bridge new foods. For example, if the children like chicken nuggets for their crunch, introduce fish to them with a fish stick first. This transition could help open them to the idea of fish.
  • Instead of asking kids if they like or dislike something, ask them to describe it. This will eliminate a concrete opinion, but rather push them to think about the taste, texture, aroma and appearance of what they are eating.
  • Talk to kids to help them understand what they are eating and why they are eating it. By boosting positive aspects of the food, such as nutritional benefits and important outcomes, they will be more likely to view it in a positive light.

Overall, the most important way to introduce new foods to kids is by showing your interest and enjoyment of them.

To learn more about health and nutrition, including the benefits of eating together as a family, check out The Family Table at www.ag.ndsu.edu/familytable or contact the Morton County Extension office.   The Family Table is an initiative of NDSU Extension. Join the challenges and sign up for an electronic newsletter with recipes and tips. Follow the program on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ndfamilytable  for more tips, meal plans and ideas for getting conversations going during family meals.

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