Friday, May 28, 2010

Raising the Chicken Finger Generation

Have you ever thought about how many times a week your kids eat chicken fingers, pizza  and hot dogs? What do they eat when you go out? Are you making different dinners for everyone? Have you ever thought about what your kids will eat when they stop eating off the "kid menu" Will it be more chicken fingers, pizza, and hot dogs?

If we are not exposing our kids to different foods, or at least supporting their curiosity to try different foods, what will they be eating as an adult? I truly hope it is more than just chicken fingers.

And yes, there are times when I am concerned that we are raising a whole generation of chicken finger kids.

What to do about it? What about picky eaters?

It is so much easier to open a box and heat something up. I get it. You are busy, and cooking takes planning, never mind trying to expand your child's food tastes. I had a picky eater. At one point Brian ate, yogurt, apples and dried pasta and that was pretty much it. (and yes you read that correctly - DRIED PASTA). It has taken a long time, but for the most part Brian will try new foods and  he now eats more variety than the average kid. What did I do, besides pull my hair out and worry constantly that he wouldn't grow and would be malnourished?

I exposed him to different food... repetitiously

Honestly I don't think there is a single answer, a fix it, but I can share what has worked for me and this works with adults too.

  1. Ask! Find out what it is about a certain food that the child doesn't like. Is it taste, texture, color, smell. 
  2. Introduce one or two new things at time, in small portions (like a bite or two). 
  3. Keep having the food show up every week, every other week, once a month, what works for your family. Remember all those baby books that told you to expose your child to a new food ten times before expecting your child to like it? Well this still applies and it may take twenty times. 
  4. Don't make new food a big deal, both on your part or your kid's. Bargaining, promising, threatening, yelling don't work. If your kid doesn't want to eat, don't make him/her. Let them explore on their own. Sometimes just looking at that weird stuff on their plate is enough.
  5. Try preparing the food different ways. Raw, steamed, grilled, stir fry - present it different ways. 
  6. Keep talking to your child. Ask them periodically why they don't like it. 
 Good Luck and keep trying new things!

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