My children go from ‘best eaters’ to ‘fussiest children ever’ in the blink of an eye… Does that sound familiar? Children go through phases, their taste buds are constantly evolving. One day, they might love something and the next, they’ll refuse to touch it. Some tastes like garlic, ginger, Brussel sprouts of kale, will only be enjoyed after being eaten a few times, so it’s worth persevering until they become acquired tastes. If you make it into a bit of a game to try ‘just one mouthful’ and generally show them they can have fun with food, children are more likely to develop a palate for a huge variety of tastes and flavours.
Nothing is set in stone when it comes to food preferences and you can train your taste buds to enjoy different flavours. You just have to be open-minded about it and try things a few times before you put them in Room 101. It might take six, seven or even ten exposures to the disliked food before you start enjoying it, but it’s important to persevere.
As children grow older, they also learn about healthy and unhealthy food, and that will also influence their choices. Three of my children (5, 7 and 9) have learnt a bit about sugar at school and here is what they answered when I asked them, “Why is sugar bad for you?”
- Sugar is very naughty!
- It’s bad for your teeth.
- Sugar has no vitamins.
- It’s not so bad if you exercise a lot.
- If you eat too much sugar, all the fat can build up inside you.
- It can cause illnesses like cancer or diabetes.
- It’s OK to eat lots of fruit though because fruit contains a natural sugar called fructose.
The NHS recently launched a new Change4Life campaign to help families cut back on sugar, make and healthier choices when it comes to snacks. Did you know that children in England had nearly three times the recommended amount of sugar, half of which comes from unhealthy snacks and sweet drinks?
Crevette (9) and Beanie (7) love the Food Scanner app which tells you how much sugar, saturated fat and salt are in your food and drinks. It also gives you the thumbs up (green labels) when you scan healthy items. You can download it in the App Store or Google Play.
Here are some tips to avoid raising children who crave nothing but sugar. Hopefully, the 10 fun tips below will help encourage children to try new things.
Fun with Food Tips and Ideas:
1- Forage or go to a ‘Pick Your Own’ fruit and veg farm.
2- Use small cutters to make shapes out of fruit or vegetables. I buy ours from my friend Grace’s Eats Amazing shop.
3- Let your children be in charge of getting their own snacks or lunchboxes (find ours here) ready.
4- Get into the habit of cooking simple meals with them on a regular basis (soup, quiche…).
5- Let them do the grating (cheese, carrot, etc.) or chopping.
6- Teach them how to safely peel vegetables and make it their job.
7- Let them try the food as they’re cooking!
8- Let them experiment with food, be creative. Why not let me add google eyes to their fruit or snacks? If you have a bit of pastry left over after making a quiche or tart, let them use the offcuts to make their own snacks.
9- Make fruit or veg kebabs.
10- Be their role model! If you show them you’re always enthusiastic about trying new things and you have a balanced diet yourself, they’re highly likely to copy you!
Disclosure: I work with Organix as a No Junk Mum. This post all about having fun with food is part of our #NoJunkJourney. All opinions and photos are my own.