The Rotation Rule—switching what you serve from day-to-day— lays the foundation for introducing new foods.
I write about this all the time (so, sorry if you’re sick of it) because it’s crucial. Kids who get used to eating different foods are more open to eating new foods.
Still, many people find it very hard to mix-it up. That’s why I was glad to receive this question from Emily. Emily writes:
You often mention the importance of switching things up. But could you possibly provide some ideas on *how* to do so in the midst of a packed schedule? Part of the reason why my son eats a lot of the same foods is because I only have so much time to make a meal or a snack. How can busy parents find the time to shake up the food rotation?
I get it. Lots of people are too exhausted (both physically and mentally) to put more effort into meals. I, myself, confessed to suffering from this situation in When You’re Too Tired to Cook…
Here are 5 ideas to make mixing it up easy to do.
1) The Simple Rotation
Make a list of what your children eat for meals and snacks. Then, develop menus by alternating what you serve. Don’t strive to provide radically different meals. The idea is to create a structure of change.
- Day 1: Eggs Day 2: Waffles Day 3: Cereal
- Day 1: Eggs Day 2: Waffles Day 3: Eggs
2) Borrowed Foods: Foods your children eat for different meals and snacks.
Make a list of all the foods your children currently eat on a regular basis. Then mix up when you serve stuff.
You don’t have to stick to breakfast foods for breakfast, lunch foods for lunch and/or dinner foods for dinner. And you certainly don’t have to stick to snack foods for snacks—any food can fit this category. Make a list of foods your children happily eat at other times and consider using them to fix your Food Ruts. Everyone enjoys pancakes for dinner, but you can also consider carrot sticks and dip at breakfast or chicken and broccoli for snack. Anything goes!
2) Forgotten Foods: Foods your children used to eat but which they now refuse.
Parents often take food refusals more seriously than their children do. Don’t assume that once rejected is always rejected.
3) Planned-for Foods: Foods your children would willingly eat but which take a little planning to use on a regular basis.
Muffins, omelets, blintzes, and lasagna for instance, all can be refrigerated or frozen for use during the week.
4) Invented Foods: Old favorites you can dish up in new combinations.
For instance, does your child like cottage cheese, bananas and jelly? Put them together and make a breakfast banana split.
5) Get your kids involved
Let your children tell you how they experience foods they eat. Then, get them to help you figure out how to mix up tastes, textures, etc.
If your children are extremely attached to one food…
Consider varying the flavor, the texture, or the brand. As your child’s palate expands you’ll be able to reduce your dependency on this one food.
When your children ask for a Food Rut two days in a row…
Remind them you will honor their request the following day. This way your kids won’t think their favorite food is out of the rotation forever.
Remember to tell your children before you make any changes.
A simple statement should do it, “Tomorrow we are going to start eating different things on different days because that’s the healthiest way to eat. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to eat anything new.”
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~