It’s getting kids to eat what parents serve that causes so many problems.

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DINA ROSE, PhD is a sociologist, parent educator and feeding expert empowering parents to raise kids who eat right.

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Links

Dinner Together Building Healthy Families One Meal at a Time.

Food Politics Marion Nestle's intelligent take on the politics of food and nutrition.

Fooducate Like Having a Dietician on Speed dial.

Hoboken Family Alliance A terrific resource for people living in the great city of Hoboken, NJ.

The Lunch Tray Everything you need to know about improving school lunches.

Parent Hacks Forehead-Smackingly Smart Tips

Raise Healthy Eaters One of the best blogs (other than my own) for learning to raise healthy eaters.

Real Mom Nutrition Tales from the Trenches. Advice for the Real World. From a mom-nutritionist who knows!

Stay and Play The best indoor playspace on the East Coast. Oh yeah, and it happens to be owned by my brother.

weelicious Great Recipes for Kids 

Entries in New Foods (85)

Tuesday
Mar032015

Phase 1=Team Building. But First...Take a Vacation

This is the second installment in my series: The Step-by-Step, Blow-by-Blow Guide to Introducing New Foods that's Guaranteed to Change How Your Kids Eat. If you are new to this series, start here.

In this post we're talking about the first phase in Introducing New Foods: Team Building. There are two steps:

  1. Rest
  2. Reset

We'll get to the reset soon. For now, though I want you to relax. Take a breather. Let some of the tension subside.

Stop trying to "get" your children to eat anything new for one week. In other words, take a vacation from new foods.

Everyone needs a vacation. Including your kids.

If you are stressed around food, then your children are probably also stressed around food.

Your kids aren't stressed because you're stressed. Your kids are stressed because they are people who are participating in the family dynamic, and that dynamic is making you both stressed.

Similarly...

  • If you're angry, your kids are also probably angry.
  • If you're tense, then your kids are also probably tense.

And...

  • If you'd like things to change, your kids would also probably like things to change. They just can't articulate it.

So...

Before you can change how your kids eat, you have to change the emotional environment around food.

Plan meals and snacks that are guaranteed to be eaten. And if nothing is guaranteed to be eaten in your house, then at least cater to your kids the best you can. Tap into your inner permissive parent. Do this for about one week.

If you're like most parents, this advice sounds both pleasing ("Yay...no fighting for a week!") and defeating ("Are we really back to square one?"). Hang in there.

This does NOT mean you should provide a nonstop, steady supply of junk.

Stick to a structure for when meals and snacks are offered. No non-stop grazing.

This does NOT mean you should become a short-order chef. (Unless you already are one.)

Put food on the table that your children can be expected to eat. If these foods get rejected, don't jump up to get another item. You've already prepared the preferred foods. Now let your children decide if they want to eat.

  • "Chicken nuggets? Yuk."
  • "Well, you normally like chicken nuggets. That's why I prepared them. You don't have to eat them if you don't want. There will be a snack later today if you're hungry."

If this produces a meltdown, you have a behavioral problem on your hands not a food problem. Solve it the way you would solve any behavioral problem. 

In the next post, I'll start talking about the reset. In the meantime, if you have questions about this step, ask.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Monday
Mar022015

The Step-by-Step, Blow-by-Blow Guide to Introducing New Foods that's Guaranteed to Change How Your Kids Eat

Today is the start of the step-by-step, blow-by-blow guide to introducing new foods that I promised.

There are three phases.

  1. Team Building
  2. Growing a Good Taster
  3. Moving from Tasting to Eating

I can't tell you how long each phase will take because that really is going to be determined by your individual situation. I can tell you this: Don't try to rush through Phases 1 and 2 to get to Phase 3. If you move too quickly, and ask your child to accept too much change, things will fall apart.

Ask questions. Often.

I encourage you to ask me questions as we go along. You can do this either right here in the comments section or you can do it on Facebook.

I will answer every question—yes, every question—either in the comments section or in a subsequent blog post.

Your kids don't have to be toddlers to play along.

That was the first question I received.

Everything I tell you about introducing new foods to toddlers can be modified to introduce new foods to older children. The key difference is that, when dealing with older kids, you have to develop more trust and get more buy-in. If that's not happening in your house, ask me how to do it.

Phase 1: Team Building

I know this seems like a strange place to begin because it isn't about the food, but this phase is really important.

  • Reduce tension
  • Build trust
  • Change the family dynamic
  • Dilineate a break between the old way and the new way
  • Let kids know what's going on—and why
  • Become allies (instead of enemies) in the food department

Phase 2: Growing a Good Taster

In this phase we'll separate the process of tasting from eating so you child builds the skills to become a good taster.

  • Build confidence
  • Increase knowledge about different kinds of food
  • Develop tasting skills
  • Increase comfort around new food
  • Reduce resistance
  • Learn how to explore new foods in a way that works

Phase 3: Moving from Tasting to Eating

In this phase we'll talk about how to add new foods to the menu.

  • Menu planning with new foods
  • Using backups to eliminate stress

Remember: Ask questions

I'm here for you. Let's get this done.

See you tomorrow to start on Phase 1.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Read the next post in this series.

Tuesday
Feb102015

It's Crazy to Ask Kids to Eat New Foods Until They Already Like It

It can take toddlers 10-14 times of tasting a new food before they'll like it.

Everyone knows this, right? And it can take picky eaters even longer.

Getting to the magic number can be a real challenge. That's why most parents give up on a new food after serving it 4 times.

So here's the question: If it's pretty much guaranteed that your child won't like a new food until the 10th time he has tasted it, why would he eat the food on tries 1, 2, 3, 4...?

Kids won't eat food they don't like.So this is straight math/logic. 

  • Taste 1: Food rejected. Don't like. Won't eat it.
  • Taste 2: Food rejected. Don't like. Won't eat it.
  • Taste 3: Food rejected. Don't like. Won't eat it.
  • Taste 4: Food rejected. Don't like. Won't eat it.
  • Parent gives up.

Expecting kids to eat a food during the phase where they're just getting used to it is crazy. And the crazy is on us.

Mixing up tasting and eating is the problem.

During the "getting used to it" phase, kids should only be asked to taste a new food. One bite. One tiny bite. With NO expectation that they'll eat it.

In the research that investigates how long it takes before kids will accept new foods, they rarely (if ever) ask the children to EAT the food. They simply give them a pea-sized sample to taste. And that's what parents have to do.

Say, "If you don't like it, you don't have to eat it," or the modern equivalent, "Just take a 'no thank you bite'" and you'll be dead in the water.

"If you don't like it, you don't have to eat it," sets up the expectation that your child will have to eat it if he likes it. This is implied pressure and it makes reluctant kids reject the new food even before they've tasted it. 

I know this doesn't make sense to parents, who think "Kids will want to eat food they like," but it doesn't work that way. Kids have lots of reasons for refusing food. Making your life miserable is one of them!

And a "No thank you bite" just primes kids to politely say "no thank you" when they reject the food. In fact, it primes them to think, "No thank you" before they even take that bite.

The problem is that we don't know which taste will be the magic taste. Is it taste #5, taste #8, or taste #42?

Some kids like a new food earlier than other kids. And some foods are easier to like than others. But since you can't know which tasting attempt will produce the winner, the only thing you can do is continue to offer tastes.

And the only way to offer tastes without making yourself crazy is to completely separate tasting from eating.

In other words, unless you have already grown a good taster, never push the issue of eating a new food. Otherwise you'll end up in a control struggle. And you'll probably end up throwing out a lot of food.

  • Always put something on the table you can reasonably expect your child to eat.
  • Offer tastes of food on a separate plate if your child is overly protective and scared.
  • Find opportunities away from the table to encourage exploration: At the grocery store, when you're cooking, when you're eating, when you're at the park!

When parents lower their expectations around new foods, kids do better.

Learning to taste new food is a skill children have to learn. For more on this topic read Unleash Your Toddler's Inner Food Critic and Nix the Negativity.

~Changing the conversation from Nutrition to Habits.~