When it comes to getting kids to try new foods, here are three things I know for sure: 

  1. Kids often don’t say what they mean. “I don’t like it,” and “No thank you” often mean “That looks weird,” or “I’m not in the mood.”
  2. When forced to taste a new food, kids often don’t really taste it. They invoke, “I don’t like it” or “No thank you” the moment the food hits their mouth as a way of getting out of eating.
  3. The key to introducing new foods is to get children to really consider what they’re tasting. You want to avoid a straight “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” assessment so everything gets a second (third, fourth, fifth…) chance.

Try experimenting with the following idea from one of our readers with children going through a selective streak:feedback chart of thumbs up, neutral and down, smiley face, neutral and frowny

Explain to your child that if they don’t want to eat something they’ve got to say 2 words about it and the words must be descriptive and not judgmental.

This idea is brilliant because it:

  • Encourages real tasting.
  • Gives kids an honest out.
  • Helps you learn more about what is going on in your kids’ heads.
  • Teaches kids about food and cooking.
  • Builds their vocabularies.
  • Sometimes even gets kids to eat whatever you’ve served…

One night my 3 year old son was objecting to the acorn squash.  I said, “You don’t have to eat it if you don’t want to, but taste it and give me 5 words.”  He counted out his fingers, looked at his plate, and said, “I guess I’ll eat it instead.”  I laughed.

Here is our readers amazing list of suggested descriptive words. (My favorite words are marked in bold.)

1) Temperature

Icy, Cold, Chilly, Cool, Refreshing, Room Temperature, Lukewarm, Tepid, Warm, Toasty, Steaming, Roasting, Smoldering, Hot, Scalding

2) Taste

Acidic, Acrid, Bitter, Bittersweet, Bland, Briny, Burnt, Charred, Doughy, Fiery, Flavorful, Fresh, Fried, Green, Harsh, Honeyed, Infused, Mellow, Pickled, Plain, Raw, Refreshing, Rich, Ripe, Roasted, Robust, Rotten, Saccharine, Salty, Satisfying, Sautéed, Savory, Seared, Seasoned, Sharp, Smothered, Sour, Spicy, Starchy, Strong, Sugary, Sweet, Sweet-and-Sour, Tangy, Tart, Tasteless, Toasted, Unflavored, Unseasoned, Zesty, ZingyPlate of various vegetables, salad eggs, tomatoes and avocado on a wooden table

3) Texture

Al Dente, Astringent, Chewy, Clumpy, Crackly, Creamy, Crispy, Crumbly, Crunchy, Crusty, Doughy, Drenched, Dried Out, Dripping, Dry, Fatty, Fine (small pieces), Fizzy, Flaky, Flat, Fleshy, Fluffy, Fried, Gelatinous, Glazed, Gloppy, Gooey, Grainy, Greasy, Gritty, Gummy, Harsh, Hearty, Heavy, Juicy, Lean, Light, Limp, Lumpy, Lush, Mashed, Mellow, Melting, Mild, Minced, Moist, Moldy, Mouthwatering, Mushy, Overripe, Pasty, Powdery, Rubbery, Runny, Satisfying, Shattering, Silky, Slimy, Smokey, Smooth, Soggy, Soupy, Spicy, Spongy, Stale, Starchy, Sticky, Stiff, Stringy, Syrupy, Tender, Thick Toothsome

4) Smell

Aromatic, Full-Bodied, PungentRancid, Strong, Heady, Odorless, Overpowering, Perfumed

5) Comparisons

Buttery, Chalky, Cheesy, Chocolaty, Citrusy, Earthy, Eggy, Fishy, Gruity, Gamey, Garlicky, Gingery, Grassy, Herbal, Lemony, Malty, Meaty, Milky, Minty, Nutty, Oily, Oniony, Peppery, Vinegary, Yeasty

For more on creating conversation with your kids, read:

~Discover your families own path to healthy eating happiness~