Whenever my extended family is around my house at mealtime, they are always joking about the foods I serve my daughter. While most 2-year olds are eating more standard lunchtime fare, my child is a little more adventurous with her taste buds. In an effort to provide balanced meals, I’ve tried to introduce her to a wide variety of foods so that she learns to enjoy them and make balanced decisions when she grows up. As a partner of the Together Counts™ program, I know that making balanced decisions start at home. So far, it’s been working.
Although there are certain foods she doesn’t like (despite my repeated attempts to get her to eat them), there are foods she eats now that she didn’t like the first few times we tried. Researchers have found that it can take 8 to 15 attempts before children will accept certain foods as part of their diet. Speaking from experience, it takes a lot of patience to unsuccessfully offer foods that many times. When you’re rushing to get dinner on the table, it’s much easier to go with something you know your family will eat, versus having to listen to complaining kids who won’t take a bite of their meal. But in the end, the struggle might be worth it.
Research from the Monell Chemical Senses Center (a non-profit research institute in Philadelphia) shows that what kids are willing to eat at age 9 is directly related to what they were eating at age 2. They have found that “acquiring a taste for bitter foods, such as spinach and broccoli, requires repeated exposure.”
Some restaurants are even jumping on the bandwagon, expanding their kids’ menus to include a wider variety of wholesome options. So I often find myself ordering something nutritious that I know my daughter will eat, and splitting it with her to expose her to wider variety of foods than she might choose on her own.
Do you (or did you) try to offer your children a wide variety of foods throughout life? Do you think it has made a difference in their food choices or taste preferences?
This post was originally published on SPARKPEOPLE. Jen Mueller left her first career in corporate finance to earn a master’s degree in health education. She is a busy mom of three and holds a number of fitness certifications and is passionate about helping people reach their health and fitness goals. In her spare time, Jen loves training for marathons and spending time with her family.
For more ways to expand your little one’s palate check out the following resources from Together Counts: