Standing in the grocery aisles, I witnessed a father along with his son stop to pick up a sample of the asparagus I had sautéed with a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of butter, some fresh thyme and rosemary and a squeeze of lemon. The delicious aroma of the fresh herbs permeated the air and the son was intrigued. Of course, I was happy to see a child interested in asparagus! The father took a sample and said he would share, so they wouldn’t each need their own. However, as they walked away, the father wouldn’t share the asparagus to his son because he said “you won’t like it”.
The sad part of this story is that this situation happens a lot as I stand in the supermarket aisles. Yet, parents will say “I wish my kids were better eaters!”, “My kids don’t like vegetables!”, or my favorite “I bet your kids are the best eaters!”.
We can’t have our cake (asparagus) and eat it too. In order to raise kids that WANT to try new foods, we have to actually let them try it! Here are three tips I share with parents that are concerned about how their kids are eating:
1. Be a role model. Of all the influencers on the eating habits of our kids, it’s us as parents. If I want my kids to eat roasted vegetables or drink their milk, I must do the same. Their little eyes are always watching. Make each day count.
2. Make the right foods easy to find. At my house, the apples and bananas are in plain site, as are the almonds, pistachios and dried fruit. They are all right on the counter. Where’s the Easter candy? In the cabinet. Doesn’t mean we don’t eat it. But it does mean what we see is what we eat. What I want my kids to eat more of, I set out in front of them. Same goes for in the refrigerator.
3. Invite kids to the supermarket and invite them into the kitchen before mealtime. When my kids get to choose which fruit and vegetable they want to try this week and pop it in the cart, they are happy. And when I invite my kids to help prepare the meal, cutting the vegetables nearly always results in them eating some of them. I’m not going to argue with my son when the red pepper is half devoured!
And to rebut the statement I hear most often “I bet your kids are the best eaters!” My daughter asked me last week “Which sense would you give up?” I had to think about that for a minute or two but she told me her answer right away: “I’d give up taste, because then I would eat spinach!” I guess there’s always hope (and more spinach salads!).