Have you ever done paired taste testings?
It's how the researchers who conducted the study that I discussed in my last post figured out that a preference for super-sweet and super-salty foods often go together.
(If you missed that post read Are You Sweet, or Are You Salty?)
Give paired taste testings a try. Most kids will find it super cool.
Paired Taste Testings are Mini Contests
The "winner" of each round gets into the next round until there's only one food "standing."
In the study:
- The kids were given two tastes of sugar water: one barely sweet, the other a little sweet.
- The preferred sample was put up against another sample of sugar water that was a little sweeter.
- The kids picked their preferred sample from this round. This "winner" was then put up against another, slightly sweeter, sample of sugar water.
- This went on until the child picked the same sample twice in a row.
Because the foods are presented with different concentrations of sweetness, the food that "wins" twice in a row is preferred over both a sweeter and a less sweet food.
The researchers also presented the foods on a second occasion in reverse order to make sure that the kids weren't always picking the first choice.
You can do something like this at home and it would be super cool.
- Give your child two samples of the same kind of food: Let's use apples.
- Ask your child which apple she prefers.
- Put the favored apple up against a third kind of apple.
- Put the favored apple from the last "contest" up against another kind of apple.
- Keep going unti your child picks a favorite apple.
For more ideas on how to structure the tasting read: Unleash Your Toddler's Inner Food Critic
Remember, this is a TASTING exercise, not an EATING exercise.
Use very small tastes. Pea-sized. You do this kind of taste test with different kinds of pairs.
- Carrots prepared in different ways.
- Different textures (think mushy, crunchy, soupy)
You could even do completely different kinds of foods: crackers and mac 'n cheese, for instance.
Follow up the tasting with a conversation about what was tasted. But don't, I repeat DON'T, ask your kids if they want to eat whatever they've tasted.
For a list of questions you might ask your kids read Nix the Negativity.
Don't take your child's taste preferences too seriously.
It will be tempting to find the food your child likes the most and then serve it over and over. That would be a mistake because it would constrict rather than expand your child's palate.
Also, children younger than 5 don't have stable taste preferences. So use this method as a way to increase your child's exposure to new foods and flavors rather than to discover what she tastes she prefers.
For more on this read Kid-Approved Meals.
I discuss all these ideas in It's Not About the Broccoli.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~