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Archive for November, 2011

excerpt from Elizabeth Pantley, The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution

Is your child unwilling to taste a new food? A picky eater often has to be

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exposed to something new as many as ten to fifteen times before even tasting it! Children trust familiar things in their lives and are often suspicious of something new and different—this applies to food too. A food that has an unusual appearance, color, smell, or texture can be off-putting to a young child. That’s why repeated exposure helps. Eventually the unusual food becomes familiar, and at that point, the child becomes open to the idea of tasting it and giving it a fair evaluation. Knowing these facts gives us insight into how to introduce new foods and what to expect when we do. Here are a few tips:

~Begin by putting a tiny bit of the new food—such as two chickpeas or one Brussels sprout—on your child’s plate along with regular favorites. Don’t expect him to eat it, and don’t make a comment if he pulls it apart, smells it, or smashes it. Allow the experimentation to occur—it’s the first step to acceptance. If you’ve displayed the new food on your child’s plate eight to ten times and he still hasn’t eaten any, then gently encourage him to take “just one bite.”

~Pick one or two new foods at a time and put one on your child’s plate three or four times per week for several months. When he sees it enough times he’ll eventually give it a taste.

~Let your child observe you eating the new food. Mention to your spouse or a friend that you enjoy the food so that your child’s hears your comment. Studies tell us that when children are certain their parents or other important people in their lives really like a food (not just eat it out of duty, but actually enjoy it, they decide it’s a good thing to try for themselves.


Melissa, mother of of five-year-old Brenna, four-year-old Gianni, two-year-old Giulio, and nine-month-old Brydie shares her idea: “To introduce my kids to some new foods, I create a food treasure hunt. I have the kids play in their room so I can put out the food and make a map to each place with clues to the next food spot. They don’t get the next clue unless they try the food at each spot. I try to have only two new or not-so-keen-on foods along with about three things they do like along the way. The treasure at the end is dessert!”

~If you are eating with another adult, offer that person a taste of the new food. Ask her in advance to try it willingly and declare it tasty. When a child sees someone else being adventurous, he may be more willing to do so himself.

~After your child has tried the food and found it at least minimally acceptable (meaning he doesn’t spit it out or gag on it!), try putting it out as an appetizer before dinner is served. If your child is hungry, and it’s the first thing offered, he may actually eat a bite or two.


Catherine, mother to eight-year-old Ben and four-year-old Birdy tells her tale: “I put kale on his plate and put kale on his plate and put kale on his plate. My son tried it and grimaced, and we praised him for trying it. Pages flew off the calendar, and his beard grew down to the floor, and then one day he ate it without comment. And then one day he ate it and said, ‘This is actually not as bad as I thought.’ After which a pair of bluebirds draped the banner of joy around my shoulders!”

This article is an excerpt from The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution: Gentle Ways to Encourage Your Child to Eat—and Eat Healthy by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2011)

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Over 65% of parents report problems getting their children to eat vegetables. Kids should eat 3-5 servings per day, but a third of kids don’t eat a single serving of vegetables on a given day. There are easy ways to encourage your kids to eat — and enjoy! — vegetables. Try some of these tips.

~ Put vegetables on a pedestal.
It’s an odd fact that while vegetables are a healthy cornerstone of any diet, they are usually relegated to a back corner side dish. While interesting recipes appear for main dishes, the vegetables are often steamed or boiled in a routinely boring presentation. Start treating vegetables as the star of the meal and your kids will too.

~ Name the star of the show.
Vegetables rarely get the spotlight. When kids ask, “what’s for dinner?” we name the meat and starch – “Chicken and rice” or “Steak and potatoes” and don’t even mention the vegetables. From now on, name the veggies first. Create a fun name for the vegetable of the day you can help your children view them in a different light. So, what’s for dinner? “We’re having Brilliant Bunches of Broccoli along with chicken and rice.”

~ Search out new recipes for veggies.
Try stir-frying a mix of veggies with olive oil to give them an attractive presentation and a unique flavor. Add a sprinkling of nuts or seeds or a dribble of sauce. Mix two or even three kinds of vegetables together for a colorful dish.

~ Get artistic.
It can be fun to serve vegetables in interesting containers or arranged colorfully in patterns or shapes

~ Let them dip ’em.
Serve a platter of raw veggies with dipping sauce such as ranch dressing, yogurt or hummus Kids often prefer raw vegetables over cooked, especially if they can dip.

~ Give kids a choice.

Routinely serve two vegetables at dinner so that you double the chance your child will eat at least one. Plus, seeing two vegetables will build an expectation that vegetables are important.

~ Get sneaky.
While you are teaching your child about nutrition, go ahead and hide some vegetables within other recipes to up your child’s daily quota. It’s easy to add chopped spinach to hamburgers, pureed squash into macaroni and cheese, crushed cauliflower into mashed potatoes, or bits of carrots and broccoli into spaghetti sauce. That way your kids get the benefits of vegetables no matter what.

— Excerpted from The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution (McGraw-Hill) by Elizabeth Pantley

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