Los Angeles, California- They are one of the greatest frustrations faced by parents: food phobias. Foods such as vegetables, fruit and meat are some of the foods that children do not like. Worse yet, many children are not even willing to try them.
But there is a dietary psychology behind these food phobias. As they develop their sense of trust, it is normal that young children are very suspicious of foods. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child may need many times to try a new food.
Tatiana Vidal, a culinary expert and author of “My House Chef,” also has other tips for parents to teach their children to eat healthy foods.
“You can change a child’s diet and introduce him to new flavors and food so that he realizes that cooking is an activity that he can enjoy,” Vidal said. “We have neglected to address who teaches them to eat.”
This neglect is often due to the different and hectic lifestyles that Latino families adopt when coming to this country. This is one reason why national health organizations believe that Hispanic children have one of the highest rates of being overweight and obese in the United States.
“Is there no time to give your own children years more of life, guarantee their good health and prevent diseases such as those currently occurring in the U.S. with a population of type two diabetes?” Vidal responds to parents who use that excuse. “It is time for parents to commit themselves and their children and say, ‘I have to give make space,’ because there is always time for the things we want.”
According to Vidal, society is forgetting to instill culinary traditions in young children, good taste in cooking, and teach them to cook and try new food.
This includes everything from teaching them the importance of vitamins in foods and their specific functions and food facts (for example, that carrots help improve vision, or that an adequate portion of rice is equivalent to half the size of a baseball). This helps them easily visualize and understand concepts.
“Children are very smart. We should give them smart reasons why they should eat these foods. Obviously unlike the way this information is taught in classrooms. The idea is to make it into something fun for the child.”
This includes exploring new flavors and colors. It is all about creativity and finding a fun way to present dishes. Eat slices of pumpkin is not the same as eating pumpkin on spaghetti in the shape of a smiley face. We also know that if children take part in cooking the food, they will want to test the final product, and this teaches them other values.
“I think the kitchen goes beyond being the place where we cook our food. We can teach parents to regain customs and develop universal values such as order, friendship and teamwork,” Vidal said.
One of the most effective techniques for parents is to find the food their children like most and combine it with the taste that parents want to include, such as adding broccoli to macaroni and cheese, for example. Another effective trick is to tell stories that have vegetable characters.
Vidal recommends not forcing children to eat food. Those bitter moments will prevent them from remembering the taste, color and types of new food. Only the memory of the bad experience will remain.