Friends and family are always commenting about how our two daughters are excellent eaters. They pretty much eat everything we give them and always looking to try new things. For kids aged 5 and 7, this is impressive, especially when they have friends over who don't eat this and don't eat that. So how did we do it?
1. When the girls were younger but older enough to have the same foods as the rest of the family (i.e., not baby or mashed foods), we would put everything that we ate on their plate. There would be times they would comment that they didn't like it - without even trying it so I would simply explain that they don't have to "like" it, they just need to "try" it. They would and often be surprised that it wasn't so bad.
2. If there was something that they said they didn't like - let's say tomatoes - I would let them leave it. But the next time we ate tomatoes as a family, they would be given a serve. There was a chance they would not eat it and that was okay. Rather than forcing them to eat it, I would explain that perhaps next time. Again, I would serve tomatoes, and surprisingly they would eat them, no problems. I remember cooking a meal with carrots in it when a friend was visiting with his son. Before the dish was set in front of his son, my friend starting picking out all of the carrots. "What are you doing?" I asked. "My son doesn't like carrots," he explained. When I asked when was the last time he was served carrots, he explained it has always been and not given carrots since he was a toddler (he was now 8 years old!). This did not make sense to me. The son had been trained that he did not "like" carrots and had not been served any for years. How was he going to learn that they actually tasted really good if he was never served them?
3. We have always loved to grow our own organic vegetables and fruit. We are lucky enough to live on acreage but even with a small garden, it is worth getting kids involved with seeing where food comes from. I find my kids love picking fruit and vegetables straight from the plant and eating them. Things that may have resisted on a plate, such as broccoli, not a problem when they picked a small floret from the plant and ate it raw. Parsley is the favourite now with the girls running to my herb patch for a pick on the fresh leaves.
5. Kids cooking in the kitchen is a great way to get them involved and to learn about food. They are always keen to try their creations and whenever possible, I get our girls cooking. They even have their own mini-aprons :)
6. The girls are also very aware of the Healthy Eating Pyramid... the one attached is one of my favourites. I often ask them, "What do you need to eat more or less of today?" Surprisingly they know the answer.
Eating a healthy, organic, varied range of foods is of the utmost importance in our household. The things we feed and dress our kids in can really influence their health, which is why we also choose organic food and clothing as much as possible.