The more familiar children are with food, the more likely they are to accept them. We’ve talked about increasing familiarity by bringing your kids with you when you go grocery shopping and by getting them to help with food preparation. Another way to increase familiarity is by talking about food.
When presented with a new food, a child may say, “I don’t like it.” This can be frustrating for a parent because you know that they’ve never actually tasted it and can’t actually make a correct judgment. What the child probably means is “I’m not familiar with this food and I’m afraid I won’t like it.” Describing food increases familiarity.
Think about it this way: when seeing a familiar person, such as a grandparent, your child may run and give the person a hug. This person is familiar and the child loves him. But if you have an out of town cousin who is coming to visit your family for the first time in years, your child might be reticent to give her a hug. After all, your cousin is essentially a stranger.
An introduction goes a long way. If you say, “this is my cousin who lives far away… she spent a lot of time playing with you as a baby,” your child will probably start to warm up to your cousin faster than if you hadn’t made any introductions.
You can introduce food the same way. Make introductions. “Jimmy, meet Mr. Broccoli. Mr. Broccoli was grown on a farm nearby. He has a crunchy texture and has a bit of a bitter taste. You like the taste of him when we eat Broccoli Cheddar Soup. Today, we are eating him with garlic butter.”
Introducing children to food can have a side benefit of reconnecting children with where their food comes from. In a survey of rural British children, only 1 in 4 children knew that beef burgers came from cattle! It’s important for children to know the origins of food! We need to talk about food more with children!
Choose three foods and fill out this table: