Encouraging An Adventurous Eater

Get tips on incorporating new foods at any age

In the quest to help your child feel like a little global citizen, trying new foods serves as a natural starting point.  But what if your little one also happens to be a picky eater?  Here are a few strategies that help open up the world-on a plate

'Hunt' Together

Begin your adventure at the grocery store or local farmer's market.  Let your little one choose a vegetable and a fruit she'd like to eat today.  Challenge her to pick something she's never tried before.  You can talk about the different colors, shapes, sizes, weights and textures, adding wonder to a simple process.

Locate It and Imagine It

Look for the label where your choices came from:  maybe Israel or Indonesia or Iowa? Locate these places on a map at home, or right in the market on your smartphone.  Imagine the sort of journey a whole fruit salad from six different countries might have made.  Create a fantastic story of each fruit's origin-the village it came from, the person picking it and how it traveled to get here.

Set an Example

Show what sort of adventurous eater you are.  You can mention something like: "I've never eaten bok choy before, but I want to try it.  It's exciting to try something new.  Would you like to help me prepare it and join me in tasting it for the first time?"

Ditch the Kids Meal

When you are home, prepare one meal that everyone will eat. Arrange your schedules as much as possible so that parents and kids eat together.  Dinnertime has proven to offer a rich learning environment, with benefits like better manners, conversations, connections and-yes-better eating.  

At restaurants, avoid the kids menu, which often is comprised of the least healthy options.  Choose a dish together with your child that you might share, and possibly order an extra appetizer or side dish you both like.  This way, eating better doesn't have to be more expensive, either. 

Make it Meaningful

Kids feel great when they're helping out at home and in the larger world.  Engage your child in collecting non-perishable foods for a local food pantry, then drop off the donation together.   Pre-screen information on a global charity, like UNICEF USA or Save the Children, then select parts of the website to view together and consider how you might help other children have good food too. 

Opening up to a global mindset can offer so many benefits to our children, including introducing colors, flavors, words and textures of foods from around the world-often found right in our home communities.