Q. How can I get my kids to try new foods?
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A. First, what not to do: bribe, threaten or nag. “Contingency strategies,” such as promising that if “finish your peas, then you can watch television,” tend to reinforce a child’s negative associations with foods. Keep your encouragement positive.
Make lots of different healthy choices available. Nutrition experts frequently advise parents to expose young children to lots of different tastes: it teaches them to accept a variety of healthy foods. If your child hates something the first time he tries it, don’t give up. Research shows that it can take as many as 10 to 15 tastes before a child will learn to appreciate a new flavor.
But the most effective strategies for getting your kids to eat well is to practice what you preach. Research conducted by Jennifer Orlet Fisher, Ph.D., one of the foremost experts on the development of eating behavior in children, shows that young children learn to prefer foods that are familiar and ones presented as acceptable in their homes.
Bottom line: The best way to teach someone that healthy foods are important (and delicious) is to enjoy them yourself.
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