When it comes to getting kids to try new foods, here are three things I know for sure: 

  1. Kids often don’t say what they mean. “I don’t like it,” and “No thank you” often mean “That looks weird,” or “I’m not in the mood.”
  2. When forced to taste a new food, kids often don’t really taste it. They invoke, “I don’t like it” or “No thank you” the moment the food hits their mouth as a way of getting out of eating.
  3. The key to introducing new foods is to get children to really consider what they’re tasting. You want to avoid a straight “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” assessment so everything gets a second (third, fourth, fifth…)chance.

One of my readers, Tricia, decided to implement a BRILLIANT rule when her 3 year old suddenly developed a selective streak. 

If you don’t want to eat something you’ve got to say 2 words about it. The words have to be descriptive and not judgmental.

This rule is brilliant because it:

  • Encourages real tasting.
  • Gives kids an honest out.
  • Helps you learn more about what is going on in your kids’ heads.
  • Teaches kids about food and cooking.
  • Builds their vocabularies.
  • Sometimes even gets kids to eat whatever you’ve served…

Tricia writes:

One night my 3 year old son was objecting to the acorn squash.  I said, “You don’t have to eat it if you don’t want to, but taste it and give me 5 words.”  He counted out his fingers, looked at his plate, and said, “I guess I’ll eat it instead.”  I laughed.

Here is Tricia’s amazing list. (My favorite words are marked in bold.)

1) Temperature

Icy, Cold, Chilly, Cool, Refreshing, Room Temperature, Lukewarm, Tepid, Warm, Toasty, Steaming, Roasting, Smoldering, Hot, Scalding

2) Taste

Acidic, Acrid, Bitter, Bittersweet, Bland, Briny, Burnt, Charred, Doughy, Fiery, Flavorful, Fresh, Fried, Green, Harsh, Honeyed, Infused, Mellow, Pickled, Plain, Raw, Refreshing, Rich, Ripe, Roasted, Robust, Rotten, Saccharine, Salty, Satisfying, Sautéed, Savory, Seared, Seasoned, Sharp, Smothered, Sour, Spicy, Starchy, Strong, Sugary, Sweet, Sweet-and-Sour, Tangy, Tart, Tasteless, Toasted, Unflavored, Unseasoned, Zesty, Zingy

3) Texture

Al Dente, Astringent, Chewy, Clumpy, Crackly, Creamy, Crispy, Crumbly, Crunchy, Crusty, Doughy, Drenched, Dried Out, Dripping, Dry, Fatty, Fine (small pieces), Fizzy, Flaky, Flat, Fleshy, Fluffy, Fried, Gelatinous, Glazed, Gloppy, Gooey, Grainy, Greasy, Gritty, Gummy, Harsh, Hearty, Heavy, Juicy, Lean, Light, Limp, Lumpy, Lush, Mashed, Mellow, Melting, Mild, Minced, Moist, Moldy, Mouthwatering, Mushy, Overripe, Pasty, Powdery, Rubbery, Runny, Satisfying, Shattering, Silky, Slimy, Smokey, Smooth, Soggy, Soupy, Spicy, Spongy, Stale, Starchy, Sticky, Stiff, Stringy, Syrupy, Tender, Thick Toothsome

4) Smell

Aromatic, Full-Bodied, Pungent, Rancid, Strong, Heady, Odorless, Overpowering, Perfumed

5) Comparisons

Buttery, Chalky, Cheesy, Chocolaty, Citrusy, Earthy, Eggy, Fishy, Gruity, Gamey, Garlicky, Gingery, Grassy, Herbal, Lemony, Malty, Meaty, Milky, Minty, Nutty, Oily, Oniony, Peppery, Vinegary, Yeasty

For more on creating conversation with your kids, read:


~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~