Encouraging children to eat adventurously

As parents, we have all prepared that inevitable meal that our children won’t even touch.

“It’s called Vichyssoise!”

This was my mother’s response to our skeptical looks at what she had cooked us for dinner.

A white soup with white and green chunks floating in it – was she kidding? My brother, sister and I looked at each other in disbelief.

“Uhh… I am not hungry,” my sister announced. “Me neither,” responded my brother. “Yuck, that looks gross.” (I was always less discreet).

As parents, we have all prepared that inevitable meal that our children won’t even touch.

I don’t even remember the taste of my poor mother’s soup, but for the rest of our childhood, our between-sibling threat was, “if you don’t do whatever, you have to eat vichyssoise for the rest of your life.”

I am now in my thirties, and I still have not eaten vichyssoise, mostly because I feel I would be breaking a childhood pact.

Getting children to be more adventurous with food choices, especially healthy food choices, can be difficult.

Here are some tips:

• Don’t force your child. Remember it is not your job to make your child eat something, just to offer a variety of healthy foods. If they don’t want to eat a new food, try not make a big deal of it.

• Serve new foods when your child is hungry. Let the new food be the first thing they eat.

They may not want to try something new if they have already filled up on other favorite foods.

• Be a good role model. Eat a new food in front of your child and let them see how much you are enjoying it.

• Involve your child in the preparation. This can be something simple like tearing lettuce for a salad or stirring pancake batter. This will help your child become familiar with the new food.

As you prepare it together, you can discuss the colour, shape, and texture of the food.

• Don’t give up – some nutritionists suggest a “rule of 15.”

Some children may need to be exposed to a new food 15 times before they accept it.

• Try serving new food different ways. For vegetables, some children prefer them raw to cooked. Or with dip. Or cheese sauce.



– Serena Caner is a registered dietician who works at Shuswap Lake General Hospital.