Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Exposing Your Kids to New Foods

Graciously re-posted courtesy of

Small steps in the right direction are sometimes less obvious—such as a lick of sushi. Recently, a mother of my client expressed disappointment due to the fact her child only liked two of the new foods she tried. This is actually amazing. These seemingly small acts around food are huge accomplishments for our children.

Just last weekend my husband and I decided to take the family out for dinner—so we could actually converse and relax. Our typical family restaurant choice is Mexican since the kids love quesadillas; Billy even loves the fruit salad that accompanies it. But we wanted something different, so we chose sushi. Billy cried at the mention of a new restaurant and expressed fear that he wouldn’t be able to find anything to eat. Bobby was excited, as it had been a while since we had gone to this fun establishment called Sushi Samba.


Many of you know Sushi Samba here in NYC. I highly recommend this restaurant and love their children’s menu. It is a bit costly but worthy of your dollars when introducing your children to sushi and new foods. The little rubber chopsticks are great for learning to how use chopsticks. My boys were not up for sashimi or even sushi, but we did order from the children’s menu. The bento box option gives you steak, grilled chicken, shrimp, with a veggie roll and fruit salad. Bobby ordered the option with steak skewers, Peruvian corn, and a veggie roll. Yum! I ordered Billy Japanese sticky rice with fruit salad and one of the cool kid drinks called Coco Leite.

My husband and I set a goal with the boys. The dinner goal was to taste or just lick each food. I know my husband cringed at this thought, but he does relinquish to my less intense approach. My hubby prefers they try and eat all of the food they are trying. Bobby happily ate all of his steak, tried the corn, and licked the sushi. Billy tried a few grains of rice, tried and ate all of the fruit on his skewer, and licked the veggie roll. I ate all of their leftovers plus my meal. 🙂 This was not the easiest dinner due to the constant reminders of “try your sushi, lick your sushi” etc.. Plus, the fact that my husband and I didn’t agree on the definition of “trying” beforehand made dinner a little rocky. He had decided this particular dinner would be eating the food rather than licking. I was not on the same page.

In the end, it was a success for me and my boys. My husband and many others would say otherwise. However, as parents we must remember one lick or even just going to a new restaurant can be intimidating and overwhelming for our youngsters. Hopefully the more often we dine here, the more the boys will be open to actually biting into their veggie roll.

Tips to Make Food Exposure Easier: Despite the fact that I am not perfect at this, here are some tips to ease your restaurant endeavors.

Set food expectations for your child with your partner before leaving the house
Give your child a heads–up. “We are trying a new restaurant tonight.”
Set the goals with your child so he/she knows what is expected of him or her. “Mommy and Daddy would like you try a new food tonight. Would you like to retry rice, try veggie sushi, or should Mommy pick? You can get dessert no matter what. However, it is important to try the food, you don’t have to like it. Remember, it takes many times to try a food before you may like it.”
Determine what a “try” is with your partner so that you avoid going back and forth across the table struggling on lick versus bite. (My husband and I fall prey to this trip all of the time.)
Bring an activity such as coloring or a pad for tic-tac-toe to keep your child occupied and anxiety low.
If you reward, reward for the behavior of trying the food, not eating the food.

Do not reward with dessert. Reward with a hug or a high five.

Exposing Your Kids to New Foods, by Laura Cipullo, RD, CEDRD, CDE, CDN

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