My children, like all children, go through food jags. It is common for kids to refuse food. I have spent nights thinking about the next sneaky trick to encourage food acceptance. But after 6 years, I have learned tricks do not work. I have learned patience, understanding, and perseverance improves eating behaviors. Here are my 4 strategies to minimize food refusal with my children.
4 Strategies to Minimize Food Refusal
Step 1: Rethink Variety
If a child does not like a food or refuses to eat it, don’t give up. Consider asking the child on ideas to prepare the food differently. You might be surprised a simple change will lead to more food acceptance. Changing the texture of the food from diced to mash might be all the child needs to take a bite. For ideas on how to change the texture of produce download our 100 Ways to Prepare Fruits & Vegetables chart.
Step 2: Reintroduce. Reintroduce. Reintroduce.
I am always reintroducing the not-so-favorite foods. I let my child observe, touch, and smell the food as we discussed their shape, texture, aroma, and color. Allowing the child to become more familiar with a new food, increases the acceptance of it over time. Just allowing a food to be on a plate is a small success step for some children.
Step 3: Include in the Process
Encouraging the child to assist with age-appropriate kitchen activities is an important and fun step for teaching healthy eating behaviors. My son’s eyes became wide with excitement when I gave hime permission to crack the eggs- talk about an attention grabber! Take a moment to grab our FREE download on exciting new ways to get your child cooking in the kitchen with you.
Step 4: Eat in Peace
Creating a meal without the fuss helps minimize food fights and brings peace to dinnertime. Allowing the child to eat and taste food on their terms is important for development and empowerment. I have learned that it is not my job to persuade them to eat through bribes, rewards, or punishment but to provide a calm eating environment. Click on the box below to get some of the language I use to encourage healthy eating habits in my home.