Learning from Food Mistakes for Picky Eaters?

The New York Times ran a "6 Food Mistakes Parents Make" column over the weekend. Did you see it?

Ground in scientific study (for whatever that’s worth) the column offered some sage advice such as "Don’t give up trying to get your kids eat to eat certain foods too soon" and "Don’t be afraid to add some sugar or ranch dressing to vegetables to make them tastier to kids’ palettes" (though why not forget the added sugar and just release the natural sweetness through carmelizing?).

One tip though ran contrary to the way we at Gastrokid work around picky eaters. "Demanding that a child eat at least one bite of everything seems reasonable, but it’s likely to backfire," writes the NYT, adding:

"Studies show that children react negatively when parents pressure them
to eat foods, even if the pressure offers a reward. In one study at Pennsylvania State University,
researchers asked children to eat vegetables and drink milk, offering
them stickers and television time if they did. Later in the study, the
children expressed dislike for the foods they had been rewarded for
eating."

Now we try not to demand anything at the dining table (apart from sitting up and not using your hands when a fork or spoon might be better deployed) and we certainly don’t link eating food to TV but we do work on the principle that there’s no harm in trying something new even if you don’t like it afterwards. And when it comes to good-for-you greens like kale we do adopt a Groundhog Day mentality to what is "new".

We work on the idea of everything in moderation and that includes candy, meat and yes veg.

Are we wrong? Perhaps but surely kids can’t survive or flourish on brown food alone, especially as they grow older?

Let us know what you think.

- Matthew

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4 Responses to Learning from Food Mistakes for Picky Eaters?

  1. kitchenMage says:

    I read the article and thought the same thing. I like giving the kids a correlated, you cn say “Yuck!” once – so they should give it all the style they can. That way they also get a little theater experience and you are amused rather than annoyed.
    Have you read the actual study? I am curious as to how reward = pressure. It needn’t, and that they equate them makes me wonder about the presentation. Was it, “you don’t have to, but if you do, there is a reward” or “you have to, and there is a reward” – they are not the same at all!

  2. Crumbs says:

    Someone once suggested (perhaps on here?) putting only one bite-full of each food on the plate and setting the ground rule that you have to eat each thing on the plate. If the child chooses more, then fine. If not, it isn’t forced upon them. I think this sounds fair and seems to work for us. When in a restaurant, we simply say they must try one bite and that’s it. No reward, no punishment.

  3. Jill says:

    I think that it is a good policy to try new things and for adults to model that behavior. It is fun for kids to pick a new food at the farmer’s market or store and then be expected to try a bite. Kids need to be stakeholders in what they eat…otherwise, they’ll take the bite for the wrong reason: getting a sticker or (as in my case when I was a kid) avoiding punishment.

  4. As someone who lives with (and often cooks for) a man who eats like a five-year-old, I often try to sneak in veggies wherever I can, and dress up “kid” recipes with quality ingredients, so that at least I’ll enjoy them too.
    This is one of my favorites, fancy-pants grilled cheese and roasted red pepper and tomato soup: http://urbzen.com/2008/11/13/comfort-food-for-grownups/

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