Lunchtime is an exciting part of every day at Oak Village Academy. Students open their lunch boxes with a chorus of “ooh!” “yes!” and “my favorite!” Soon they are devouring all the yummy goodness packed by loved ones the night before—or in the early rush of the morning. Maybe a brownie, baklava, crisp apple or other surprise is tucked within. Soon the entire class is quiet with only the intermittent sounds of gulping, chewing and swallowing.
Our staff observes each child, knowing their breakfast has been worked off from all the morning activities. They are now eating to fuel their bodies for the afternoon sessions. Remember, we spend a majority of our time outside. It’s almost as if every child has a “power bar” indicator above them that is being recharged with each bite. It’s going to be another energy-packed and exciting afternoon!
But one student sits quietly… staring at the food in his lunchbox. Adam has never seen this dish before… Chicken salad and crackers? His dad thought chicken salad was a good idea—at 6 a.m. Nevertheless, he prepared Adam’s lunch with both care and love. The chicken salad is spread lovingly in the container, and the crackers nestled in a sealed bag.
Adam is considering this strange concoction with a look of bewilderment. “Eww, what’s this?” he says.
One of the teachers responds quickly. “Oh, that looks like chicken salad. It has chicken and celery and raisins. You like chicken and raisins… right, Adam? I’ve seen you eat them before. Today they’re just mixed together.”
Adam is not convinced.
“Just try it, I’m sure you’ll like it.” The teacher is doing their best to encourage Adam to eat his lunch. To no avail.
Suddenly, Adam remembers one of his favorite stories, and it all becomes crystal clear to him…“I will not eat this here or there, I will not eat this anywhere. I do not like chicken salad!”
And now, despite all the training and experience of our staff, Adam has not eaten a proper lunch.
Adam’s dad had good intentions.
But Adam hasn’t eaten lunch.
Adam’s dad failed.
Please, don’t be Adam’s dad.
This kind of situation plays out all too often at dinner tables with young kids everywhere. Introducing new foods is a challenge for any parent at home. It’s even more challenging for students and teachers at school.
But, have no fear, even the pickiest eaters can be persuaded to at least try new foods. With proper motivation, encouragement and pure parental determination, any child can learn to enjoy liver and onions just the same as an apple pie… Well, maybe not! #impossible
Here are some tips for introducing new foods to children #AtHome.
The Earlier, The Better
Pediatricians advise introducing new foods to infants one at a time. Introducing new foods this way allows for parents to observe their child after consuming a new food to see if anything happens like an allergic reaction. In the same way, introducing young kids to new foods is best done earlier rather than later. Why wait until they are four to try broccoli…take your shot before they can speak! Before the they learn to say “No!” and shake their heads in defiance is the perfect opportunity to try new foods. Failure to do so, and you’ll look back and realize you once held the upper hand.
New Foods At the Right Time
There’s a reason why dessert comes after dinner… ‘cause we all want the double dark chocolate infused cake with ice cream, fresh whipped cream and cherries first. #YummyInMyTummy
Only the bravest of parents would try introducing perfect crisp raw broccoli after a trip to McDonald’s. Or brussels sprouts after an ice cream treat. #Fail
Instead, try introducing new foods when your child is hungry. Don’t starve them (wink)… But think about it, how many times have you eaten something when you were hungry, and it tasted so good? Doesn’t water taste divine on the tongue after a long workout or on a hot day? A gentle hunger does indeed make food taste better. Give them samples of new foods before dinner. “Hey, try this,” with the aroma of curry masala in the atmosphere. But, don’t just take our word for it… It’s been scientifically proven.
Presentation And Sauces
Every great chef will say that people eat with their eyes first. Dropping ten brussels sprouts on a child’s plate won’t make a good first impression. Cutting them into smaller pieces or maybe arranging them in a fun way around a plate—in a much smaller quantity—can do wonders for new food introductions.
But we all know that there are still foods that some children simply won’t try. The usual culprits include broccoli, peas and spinach… to name a few. But if all else fails, you have a secret weapon: cheese, butter and other “sauces.” Yes, it’s cheating, but using melted cheese, ginger soy sauce, nutritional yeast or butter and garlic can brighten up the first taste of most vegetables. Try ranch dressing for a raw vegetable introduction. Think sauces don’t work? Again, we consult the experts… Who could say no to ketchup?
But in all seriousness, food experimentation is probably best at home. This is where memories are created (both good and bad). Come on, you know you gave your child a lemon slice and watched their lips pucker and eyes squinch at the horror. Save those experiences for your own memories… but pack familiar goodness for your kids at lunch time!