This week’s Tuesday Tip for Picky Eaters: Encourage variety.
“An apple a day” is a common refrain the United States, but offering the same foods every day may not be the best way to encourage your kids to eat a well-balanced diet. When kids learn to expect new foods on a regular basis, they may be less resistant to eating them.
A 2008 study found that when parents bought a larger variety of produce, preschoolers were more willing to eat fruits and vegetables. Another study found that when infants were given a different vegetable for eight days in a row, they were more likely to eat other vegetables including green beans, carrots and spinach.
Other cultures offer intriguing examples for how to encourage children to eat a variety of foods. In France, the average infant is introduced to six different vegetables during the first month of eating solid foods, with over 40% of French babies tasting seven to twelve vegetables. For older children, French schools don’t cook the same lunch more than once per month. In Japan, children are encouraged to eat 30 different foods each day. Exposing kids to a large variety of flavors from an early age helps them to be more comfortable with new foods.
|Henry eats a peach muffin for breakfast.|
At our house, I am attempting not to offer the same dish more than once per week. This is the most challenging at breakfast but we here is a sample of our breakfast menu rotation from last week to help inspire you:
Monday – French toast, yogurt and kiwi berries
Tuesday – Pumpkin pancake and pear slices
Wednesday – Peach muffin and apple slices
Thursday – Whole wheat toast and orange slices
Friday – Oatmeal rounds with raisins and banana
Saturday – Swedish pancake, yogurt, persimmon and turkey sausage
Sunday – Omelet with leek, mushroom, bok choy and pork sausage
I also try to introduce Henry to at least one new food each week. Last week's new items were persimmon, bleu cheese, hum bao and quesadilla. This coming week, I am excited for Henry to try grapefruit for the first time. He loves lemons, limes and oranges so I think it will be a hit.