Something happened when Olivia turned five. Spices? No problem. Vegetables? Stick them on her plate. Then, five happened and the only vegetable she would eat without coaxing was broccoli. Gone was the child who was adventurous enough to try any kind of food without bribery, without an argument and without Olivia waiting to finish a tiny portion of something new long after everyone else was finished. As a picky child, and adult who had to learn to like things like vegetables, fish, fruit and a myriad of foods, it’s especially important to me to raise children that are willing to try new foods.

Last night we had asparagus for the fourth time in ten days. I firmly agree with the fact that children (and adults) have to try something at least ten times to determine that they really don’t like the food.

Nine out of ten times, she agrees she actually does like the food at the end of the meal. Pomegranate, asparagus, pesto, red peppers, pistachios, sweet potatoes – these are all foods she began to refuse, and has learned to enjoy after picky-five.

Here’s How We Overcame Picky-Five

Repetition

You might think serving the same thing over and over isn’t an effective way to get the kids to eat something, but we’ve gone from a bite of asparagus screaming as I told her she wasn’t leaving until the left the table, to a couple of spears eaten with some bribery of a Kinder Surprise the next day if she had given it a fair chance, to four spears, eaten slowly but without too much complaint.

Talk About the Food

Talking about the texture of the food, the taste of the food, how we prepared the food – those are all things that help me to understand what exactly it is about the food that the kids aren’t too fond of on the first go around. We talk about how the food felt in our mouth, the taste and more while we’re eating and it helps.

Serve it in Courses

Vegetables first is something that we’ve been doing for a couple of months, and it works. Sure, it means that I’m getting up from the table to serve up food a portion at a time – but when it comes down to it, it’s an easy way to get those five to ten in daily and a technique that I learned from Bringing up Bebe. At picky five, it feels like we’re starting over when it comes to vegetables – so, getting those into picky kids is a little easier when the vegetables are the first thing that they eat. I start lunch and dinner with a plate of vegetables, or fruit, that the kids eat before they get their meal.

Try Something New

Adventure in food is not something that seems to be inherent in some children. I could give Violet any new type of food (for now anyway) and she will try it. Granted, she might spit out the beets (we’re on try number four of roasted beets) but she tries. Creating this sense of adventure in food starts with a trip to the grocery store, or browsing through the grocery ordering website to find new things like Romanesco broccoli. Letting her help with the process of choosing something new makes it easier to try something new.

Know When To Let Go

Sometimes, she’s just not in the mood for vegetables. That’s okay. Fruit as a side means she’s still getting the nutrients and vitamins she would from vegetables, so I let it be. You need to know when to let go. If there’s something that she particularly doesn’t like the taste of, or the texture of – after trying it at least a few times, I will find a different way to prepare it and see if that helps, or suggest an alternative.

Don’t give up on the vegetables, the fruits and the new foods, picky five passes and meal times get easier – you just have to teach them.


Lori blogs about parenting and lifestyle at www.frugaledmontonmama.com. You can find her sharing ideas on Facebook, follow her on Twitter for quick meal inspiration, fun ways to occupy the kids and tips to get the most for your money.