How many times have you made a delicious entrée or side dish only to have it disliked, refused or even outright thrown by your little one? Many parents come to me with this very predicament- stressed and feeling discouraged by their nightly efforts to find that magic recipe to entice the taste buds of their selective child. For parents finding themselves in this dilemma; I like to enlighten them on the different levels on acceptance.
As much as we would love it, children don’t often gobble down and ask for seconds when it comes to a new food. Being able to identify the different levels of acceptance from your child for new foods can allow you to feel success and celebrate the small victories along the way. Please note that this is a system that can be effective as part of a plan with a registered dietitian, for expanding upon the accepted food of picky eaters. For problem eaters, accepting twenty or less food, it may be part of a more advanced treatment plan, but will not work alone for expanding the palate.
Level 1: Tolerance
The first step to acceptance is your child simply allowing the new food to remain on his or her plate or tray. I’d recommend providing the new food with two other “comfort” foods (i.e. foods your child has accepted before) and keeping it from touching the other foods on the plate. Ask your child to just keep the food on his plate- no need to try/touch etc.
Level 2: Play with Your Food
Encourage your child to touch, squish and interact with their food. By touching the food your child is getting more comfortable and familiar with this foreign food which can help with acceptance down the road.
Level 3: Show it Some Love
All though we often think of a bite as “trying” a food- even if your child is agreeable to licking or kissing the new food, this is a step in the right direction and allows the child to get a the taste of the food without committing to a full bite.
Level 4: Chew it Up
You may think this may be the moment of truth; your child has put that new food in their mouth… we have chewing and… we have spitting of the food. So close, but not quite at the “yum” stage. Feel happiness that your child made it to this level; you’re just one step away to a full blown try.
Level 5: A Good College Try
It’s the last step, and what you’ve hoped for from the start. Your child has made it to a taking a bite, chewing and swallowing. It may be a hit or a miss, but at least it’s a try.
So keep making your healthy dishes with hope for a new favorite food and don’t feel discouraged: feel the success in each step!
Reduce your stress, and embrace the moment by understanding the different levels of acceptance your child may have when it comes to try new foods. For more information on how to embrace this acceptance and feel more successful at the dinner table go to www.metrowcc.com.
About Ashley Bade, RD, LDN, CSP: By age 8, Ashley had sampled nearly every chicken finger, tender or nugget in New England. Her favorite “vegetables” were popcorn and potato chips. Her “green” foods included mint chocolate chip ice cream and green M&M’s. Now, Ashley is a successful dietitian practicing in the metro west, showing that finding a healthy eating balance is possible, even for the pickiest of eaters. Ashley helps clients navigate the confusing world of nutrition by providing the latest evidence-based recommendations. She supports and guides clients as they find a way of eating that feels well to them; allowing her clients to achieve their personal goals, optimize their health and attain maintainable change. Ashley’s passion is helping individuals and families find a personalized, healthy nutrition balance that not only works for them today, but for a lifetime.