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Getting New Taste Buds: How we get our kids to try new foods

Getting New Taste Buds: How we get our kids to try new foods

Do you have picky eaters? Do your kids hate trying new foods? Our family has struggled with getting our two girls, Elle and Fiona, to try new foods.  We are not alone and we are not surprised.  We have tried bribery, sneaking food into other foods, setting an example by trying the food together . . . and just about everything.  Kids are very sensitive to flavors and they have about twice the number of active taste buds as adults.  It’s no wonder that many kids have strong feelings about disliking food.  When I thought I was just going to have to deal with a house full of picky eaters, my best friend Kate gave me an incredible trick that she uses to get her kids to try new foods! (all-star creative mom stuff here)

I was with Kate and her kids having lunch and Kate asked her oldest, Chloe, if she had shown me all the new taste buds she has grown from trying new foods. Chloe proudly waltzed right over to me with her tongue out. Of course I did my “ooh’s and ahh’s”, asking her about the foods she tried to grow these new taste buds. I thought this tactic was a very clever way to get my girls to try new foods.

Luckily, Chloe and Elle are best friends too, and when I pointed out the new taste bud’s that Chloe was gaining, I could see the competitiveness brewing in her. Elle then asked me what a taste bud was and how to gain new ones. I told her that taste buds are the little bumps on her tongue that help her sense flavor in the food that she eats.  When she tries something new her tongue will gain a new taste bud. She was super excited. It seemed like it was going to work in theory . . . but would it really make my kids try new foods? 

IT WORKED! Kate’s new taste bud trick worked and now our kids love trying new foods (even if they don’t become their favorite).  We basically gamified trying new foods and we did it with an empowering personal accomplishment as the reward!  From then on, Elle was more adventurous when it came to new foods. She also discovered that if she paired food together she would be more keen on trying it. For example, if she wanted to try a new cereal we would put strawberries on it. She knows that she likes strawberries and it made it easier to try something new when it is paired with something familiar.

This experience also brought back a memory from my childhood about trying new foods. Growing up, my family loved beets. I just couldn’t get myself to try one. One day I was with my Aunt and she had some beets on her plate and asked me if I would like some. I said, “no”.  She then asked me if I had ever had a beet and of course I told her that I had not. She told me to try new foods at least three times before making a decision. Her reasoning was that the first time we try a new food we usually have a preconceived notion in our head about how it will taste. This preconceived notion will shape the way that our taste buds will perceive the flavor. The second time you try the food you will be more familiar with it.  You will remember that the food did not kill you and it really wasn’t as bad as you thought. The third time you try the food, you know what to expect and you are more likely to enjoy the new food (and by the third time, its not really new). It made total sense to me and I still use the “try everything three times” rule with myself and the kids.

We combined the fun of growing new taste buds and the “try it thrice” rule to get our kids to try new foods.

My friend Kate recently told me about how Chloe wanted to play a taste test game. Chloe was blindfolded and had to guess the different types of food she was given. Kate then started giving her new foods while playing the game. As it turned out, she likes somethings that she never would have tried if she wasn’t blindfolded. I think this is such a fun and interesting way to get kids to try foods.   I haven’t tried the blindfold trick yet, but I definitely will try it out and update you with our experience.

I know so many parents struggle with getting their kids to try new foods so I wanted to share what has really worked for us. I hope this will give you some ideas on what you can do to encourage a picky eater to try new foods. Even if they don’t like it, I feel that it is important to expose kids to a wide variety of foods, especially from all over the world. 

Happy eating!

         Hoa Pyles

What tactics have you tried with your kids? What worked and what didn’t?  Leave us a comment on FACEBOOK. 

About the writer:

Hoa (pronounced “Wah”) loves working at Neptune as the business development/marketing/accounting/jack of all trades. By night she loves to hang out with her family and figuring out how to empower kids to be themselves and is a huge advocate for parents supporting parents. After all, we are all in this together and trying to figure out this whole parenting thing.

March 25, 2017

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