My Proven Method to Introduce New Foods to Kids Without the Fuss. Podcast Episode 81

Introducing New Foods To Kids

Kids who won’t try new foods can drive parents crazy. We want to cook exciting new foods (or even just not our weekly fare) but we’re too scared because we know our kids will kick up a huge fuss. We’ll end up with meal time battles, stress and hungry kids. It feels as if it’s easier just to stick to the same 3 meals every week. But at what cost?

As a pediatric doctor, I know how important it is for kids to eat healthy foods, as well as variety. It wasn’t until I became a parent to picky eaters that I realised how difficult it can be to get kids to eat vegetables.

Today I share with my method of helping my own picky kids so that I can enjoy eating the food I want to eat, without having to worry that my kids will go hungry.

Here's What We'll Cover...

- How to present new foods to kids in a calm way so that you can enjoy meal times.
- Useful tools to present new foods to increase the chance of your child trying them so they can grow up to be healthy eaters.
- The one big mistake that many parents make that actually makes picky eating worse.

Overview of How to Introduce New Foods to Kids in a Calm Way

Remember we have the whole of childhood to teach kids healthy eating habits.

Kids copy healthy eating and living.

Two types of eaters. At one end we have “picky eaters”. Some picky eaters would rather not eat than eat foods they dislike. (Which means they’d rather go hungry.)

At the other end of the spectrum we have “adventurous” eaters. They’re far more willing to try new foods and they’re not keen on going hungry. They’d rather eat something they don’t like than go hungry. This later group, is easier to feed from a parent’s point of view, but more like to develop the habit of over eating. (And therefore, more likely to have problems with weight later on in life.)

  • Think of bigger picture. Our aim is to get kids to eat healthily when they’re grown up.
  • Kids can be roughly divided into “picky” and “adventurous” eaters.
  • Foods can fall into 3 categories: “Accepted”, “I don’t like it” and “everything else”. Kids tend to say “I don’t like it” when they really mean “it’s in the everything else group and I haven’t decided yet.”
  • It takes 15 times of willingly trying a new food to decide whether you like it or not. (This can take a long time!)
  • Pressuring kids to eat can cause friction and make things worse.
  • The aim is to increase the number of things on the accepted list.

Young girl eating breakfast with her mom #parenting #healthyparenting #healtheatingforkids #feedingkids #kidsfood

How to Increase Foods on Your Kid’s Accepted List

Kids divide foods into “accepted”, “yuck” and “I don’t know it” (which they say they don’t like.)

As parents, we want to increase the “accepted list”. You want to grow it outwards with similar foods.

  • Present them with a variety of foods.
  • Present them with lots of vegetables (those are normally the “unaccepted” foods.) Vegetables are also the key to healthy eating.
  • Food pairing. When you present an unknown food with an accepted food. E.g. broccoli (unknown) with cheese (accepted.)
  • Food chaining is when you present a similar type of food. E.g if strawberries are accepted, you might try raspberries which are also red and soft.
  • Think about how you present food. E.g. “picnic” style meals with things on different plates rather than all in one bowl.
  • Think about the portion sizes you present. If you allow them to eat lots of “white carbs” such as bread, they won’t eat the vegetables.

Often Kids Say ‘I Don’t Like It”

What they really mean is “I don’t know it” and “it’s not familiar”.

I Don’t Recommend the One Bite Rule

This is a controversial area. The danger is that you push children to eat and it back fires. You end up with meal time battles and feeding becomes a struggle.

Here's an article on my "SnottyNoses" site all about the one bite rule and why I don't recommend it. Stop Picky Eating with This One Simple Phrase.

Kids Want to Feel in Control of What they Eat

It’s better to allow children to feel in control of what they eat and what goes into their mouths. And you can do that in a way that doesn’t mean they just get to eat cake the whole time. (As much as they’d like to!)

Adults Chose What to Present. Kids Chose What to Eat

For more details of the “Division of Responsibility” check out the Ellyn Satter Institute.

Keep Presenting New Foods

I’m sure you’ve read that it takes 15 times of trying a new food to decide whether they like it or not. That’s 15 willing times. Which can take a long time.

Also, they might decide that they actually don’t like it!

The More Variety You Present, the More Variety Kids Will Eat

Variety of vegetables is one of the keys to healthy eating. Variety is also really important when it comes to teaching our kids about new foods. The more variety they have, the more variety they’ll eat.

Think About Kids Portion Sizes and Macronutrients

My kids are definitely carb junkies. Given the choice, they’d live off “white carbs”. But proportions are super important. If I allow them to eat loads of bread, they won’t eat any vegetables.

Present them with an appropriate portion of the foods that they’ll easily eat. And allow them free reign of more difficult foods such as vegetables.

You can also think about how you present them. For example, carrot sticks and cucumber slices are on the table for them to help themselves to. Or they can have some chopped tomatoes whilst they wait for a second portion of “white carbs”.

Kids will learn to help themselves to vegetables!

Food Chaining for Picky Eaters

Present similar foods to food they already accept. For example, if they like strawberries (red and soft), try them with raspberries (also red and soft.)

Food Pairing Helps Kids Accept New Foods

Present a new food with a food on the accepted list. For example, if your kids like cheese, try broccoli with melted cheese on top.

Don’t Trick Kids into Eating New Foods

In my experience, this just leads to kids losing their trust in you. I allow my kids to pick out foods they don’t like (or accept yet.)

Our Long Term Goal is Healthy Eating Kids

As always, we need to balance our short term problems (what to eat for dinner) with our long term goals.

In Summary: Introducing New Foods to Kids Can be Easy and Fun!

In summary! Step back and look at the bigger picture. We want our kids to enjoy healthy foods but we don’t get there by creating a big issue out of it. Once we let go of the stress, we find that introducing new foods to kids can be fun and easy.

See Also: My Proven Method to Teach Kids Healthy Eating without the Fuss.

A young girl eating a bowl of healthy vegetables #parenting #healthyparenting #healtheatingforkids #feedingkids #kidsfood

A mom and her daughter preparing a meal in their kitchen #parenting #healthyparenting #healtheatingforkids #feedingkids #kidsfood


Take Dr Orlena's "Why Do I Overeat Quiz?"

 Take the fun quiz to get clarity on why you overeat.

What's really going on for you?