Help, My Child Won’t Eat Anything Healthy!

Are you out of ideas on how to get your children to eat healthy foods? Maybe you have a picky eater, or a temper-tantrum-2-year-old that won’t eat anything but chicken nuggets? We know it can be frustrating, but we have an idea you may not have tried yet!

The Taste Tester

There are many reasons children can become anxious about trying new things.  They may have overdeveloped/underdeveloped tastebuds, textures that they haven’t experienced before, fear of the look or taste of new foods, or just plain stubbornness. We do know that children like choices and playing games. This method allows them to do just that. The goal is not to have them get all their nutrients during the taste testing, but to expand their pallet and to discover what they like and don’t like AFTER they have tried it at least once. Once you find more variety, you can start incorporating it into their diet.

Picture from http://b-inspiredmama.com

Picture from http://b-inspiredmama.com

Step 1: At mealtime prepare a 6-cupcake pan with similar colored foods (orange, purple, green, red, yellow, white or any other color). We suggest trying this once a week until you go through all the colors. Using and finding the same colored foods will take a little more preparation, but it helps keep the taste testing fun.  It can also help make connections between foods they like already and new foods they have not tried.
Here are some examples:

Green: green apples, green grapes, cucumber, peas, celery, broccoli, pistachios, avocado and  green cherry tomatoes.

Orange: cheddar cheese cubes, mandarin oranges, goldfish, carrots, sweet potato, squash, and cantaloupe.

Red: strawberries, cherries, raspberries, cherry tomatoes, red bell pepper, watermelon and red beans.

Purple: beets, purple potatoes, eggplant, kidney beans, blueberries, raisins and blackberries

White: cauliflower, mushrooms, white beans, chicken, pears, pasta, string cheese and jicama.

Yellow: banana, pineapple chunks, summer squash, yellow bell pepper, saffron rice and corn.

Light brown: brown rice, pinto beans, toasted o’s cereal, shaved almonds, dried apples & wheat bread.

*Consider putting a few of your child’s favorite treats on the corresponding color day to entice them to try all the foods in the taste testing tray.

Image borrowed from http://b-inspiredmama.com

Image borrowed from http://b-inspiredmama.com

Step 2: Call your child, or children, to the table and ask for help taste testing the different items in the tray you’ve provided. They have to tell you at the end which they liked and which ones they didn’t like. This will give them the freedom to choose what they like and don’t like, but they do have to try them all as part of the game.

If you have a few extra minutes, you can give your child happy face stickers to put by each item they liked or create a chart they can fill in on their own.  You can also find a template of the chart to the right on b-inspiredmama.com or by clicking here.

Step 3: After reading their charts, thank them for participating in your survey.  Take notes on what they liked and start incorporating the new foods into their daily diet.
If this idea helps you and your family, we would love to see your color combinations.  Please follow us at @myhealthoc and tag your taste testing activity #eatplaybreathe to share with other parents.