It's easy to think that children's enjoyment of food depends on how advanced the recipe is or what food is served. But usually it has little to do with it. The pleasure of eating is caused and influenced by many different factors, including factors outside the meal itself.
Some things have to do with the child's genes, while others we can influence with the help of the child's environment. By creating awareness and working with certain things, you can do a lot for children's enjoyment of food. But it's important to remember that there is no "quick fix" for food enjoyment. It often takes time and a lot of patience.
Here are my top 8 tips for helping kids find the joy in food
1: Introduce your child to different textures and tastes at an early age
This gives the child the opportunity to get used to different types of foods when they are most receptive to them. This increases the chances that the child will have a good variety in their diet later in life.
2: Let the child mess up within reason
"Smudge" is the child's way of discovering and becoming familiar with foods. It is important for the child to discover food through all the senses. Children learn through play. This does not mean that the child should necessarily throw the food away - spilling within reasonable limits is best.
3: Be a role model
Show the way, you as the parent are the child's greatest role model. Eat what you want your child to eat. Show your enjoyment of food and talk about food in a positive way. If you yourself have negative thoughts about food and the body, try not to say them out loud in front of the child.
4: Never pressure a child to eat
Although it may be difficult at times - let mealtime be a stress and pressure free moment. If the child does not want to eat at that moment, stop and try again later. Do not let mealtime become a struggle.
5: Involvement in cooking
Get the child involved in the kitchen at an early age. This may mean having the baby sit in your high chair or carrier while you cook, or giving the older child his own appropriate task in the kitchen.
6: Make mealtime a moment for exploration and playful moment
Mealtime does not just have to be about the child eating. Mealtime can also be playful and exploratory. Build old men out of the vegetables or talk about how broccoli looks like little trees. Make jokes about who can nibble the loudest.
7: Work on relationships and connections outside of mealtime
Listen to the child's signals, validate the child's feelings, comfort the child, play with the child, and be curious. Show that you are a safe and stable adult. This is an important point, of course, but the relationship between parent and child affects the food situation more than you might think.
8: Keep performance away from the dining table
The child does not need to hear that the child is "good" or "eats well," or vice versa. Try not to overload meals with performance; the child does not need to perform around the meal.