Next time you hear yourself saying, “Peter, don’t play with your food,” perhaps you should reconsider.

For some kids, food games are a good thing.  This is particularly true for tots who are resistant to new foods.

But let me be clear: I’m not talking about encouraging your kids to throw food at each other, or to smear stuff on the walls, in their ears, or up their noses.

I’m talking about something a little more structured.

I’ve written a lot about new food acceptance over the past few years, but I’ve mostly focused on:

But some kids need a slower approach. They need to get acquainted with a new food.  They need to have some fun!

Here are 5 games you can play with your children that will build new food acceptance.

These games are particularly good for children with food sensitivies.

Game 1: Hot Potato

  1. Select 3 new foods and 3 familiar foods.
  2. Place one item in a small bowl.
  3. Turn the music on and pass the bowl around.
  4. The person holding the bowl when the music stops makes a visual statement about the item: The carrot is orange.  (You can play a round using smell statements too).
  5. The person who has the bowl now chooses another item to go into the bowl.
  6. Start the game again.

Game 2: Guess What’s in the Box

  1.  Gather 7-10 new food items and a box with a small hole (shoe box will do).
  2. Place one food in the Mystery Box.
  3. Have the child place her hand through the hole, touch the item and guess what it is. (You can also ask your child to guess what’s in the box by smelling the food inside.)
  4. Give the child a turn to select and place the food in the box. Now the adult has to guess what it is.
  5. Repeat.

Game 3: Paint with Food

  1. Select 2-3 sauces as your paint.  Consider ketchup, mustard, ranch dressing, yogurt, and applesauce.
  2. Select several foods as your paint brushes.  Consider carrot sticks, celery, chicken drumsticks, pretzel sticks, broccoli spears.
  3. Provide construction paper and let your child have fun!

Game 4:  Food Bingo

  1. Decide how many squares your Bingo cards will have. Then make Bingo cards by drawing squares onto a piece of construction paper and glueing on pictures of food.
  2. Write the name of each food on a 3×5 card.
  3. Give each member a bingo card and markers.
  4. Turn over the 3×5 cards and select the first card.
  5. Have each child identify if they have the food item on their Bingo card and place a marker on the card.
  6. Each time the child has a chosen food item, he or she has to hold the actual food item and describe it’s touch, smell, look, etc.

Game 5: The Matching Game

  1. Select 3-5 food items, including some preferred foods.
  2. Write a description for each food item on a separate 3×5 card such as: sweet, sour, bitter, strong, refreshing, spicy, minty.
  3. Have each member of the group smell the food item and identify which description best describes it.
  4. Encourage your children to write new and creative descriptions for each item.

I wish I could accept credit for inventing these games, but I can’t.

You might say I stole them, but I like to think I borrowed them, from a brilliant book Just Take A Bite: Easy, Effective Answers to Food Aversions and Eating Challenges.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~