I currently have a good friend who is trying to take gluten out of her family’s diet. She has two young children and really wants to make this change as she thinks it will help their health. I say “kudos to her” because it will change their health in a very positive way. It is very hard to make any kind of change and especially change with children. Just like adults, children are creatures of habit and they learn from a very young age what they like and don’t like.
It takes children time and repeated, neutral exposure to a new food to warm up to it. By neutral exposure I mean including a new food in family meals and letting children see mom and dad eating the new food. Our taste buds need time to adapt to new tastes. Children may have to see, watch you eat, touch or taste a food 15 to 20 times before they may like it. I remember reading this in one of my books about babies trying new foods when my daughter was little. My girlfriend was over and she was telling me that her daughter (same age as mine) was having a very hard time adapting to new foods and seemed to dislike everything. I told her about her daughter needing to try the same food 15 to 20 times and she looked at me and said, “Jen, I just don’t have the energy to feed her the same thing 15 to 20 times in a day.” I laughed so hard! “No,” I said, “it means 15 to 20 different times on different days!”
My kids have developed a strong taste for vegetables but it took me a long time of eating them in front of them and constantly offering veggies to my kiddos to get them to this point. They now ask for veggies for a snack. The other day, on our way home from picking my daughter up from school, she asked me, “mommy, when we get home, can I have some green beans?” “Of course,” I said! I felt so good that she asked that but believe me, it has taken patience and perseverance to get to this point.
A few weeks ago, my son was yelling for me in our house saying, “mommy, I want a green toobie (smoothie)!” We have been having a green “toobie” everyday for about the past 6 months or so and again, it has taken the kids time to adjust. One thing I do that may or may not be right is I do not buy anything but the healthy option now. If they don’t like something the first time, I know they will eventually and just keep offering it. I let them also know that I will buy them the “unhealthy” food that is the equivalent of what we are eating and the rest of us will eat the healthy version. This works like a charm! Also, telling my son that he will be “big and strong” like Thomas the Take Engine works well, too!
Keep up the good work and kudos to you who are trying to make a difference in your family’s health! It’s all about the journey!