Most parents want their kids to enjoy a whole range of foods. Sure it’s about health but it is also about raising kids to be open to new experiences, starting with what’s in their lunchbox or on their dinner plate.

Maybe you were a picky eater as a kid. Maybe you still are. You really don’t want your child to be. It shuts them out of enjoying so many foods, occasions where food is celebrated and can really inhibit their appreciation of so many cultures when they are old enough to travel.

You may have two kids and one of them is chowing down on a greek salad and garbanzo beans, while trying to grab a piece of sushi and the other will eat only noodles and butter. These taste palates are hard to explain but they do happen within families.

Kids learn pretty quickly what their parents’ caving point is. They know how long to cry, how long to scream and how long to say no. You need to hold firm.

Here’s a few tips to help you along.

DON’T BE A RESTAURANT
When you put dinner on the table let your kids know that this is what they are having tonight. You can tell them they don’t have to eat it but you aren’t making anything else. Your kids won’t suffer if they miss a meal or two.

YOU HAVE TO TRY ONE BITE
Don’t let your kids get away with not trying out something new. Initiate the ‘one bite’ rule. If they don’t want to continue, that’s fine. They may have two bites next time. Don’t quit serving a dish because the kids don’t like it. Perseverance is key.

DO NOT HAVE PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS OF YOUR CHILD’S PALATE
Kids do have sensitive palates and that is all the more reason to give them flavourful food. They’ll notice how good something tastes with a little garlic and butter. Cook the same way for your kids as you would for your friends. If a dish is spicy you can always tone it down by adding sour cream. You may be surprised at what your kids actually like.

VEGGIES
Getting enough veggies into kids is every parent’s challenge. You just have to get inventive and repetitive. You can hide veggies in pasta sauces and you can try to make veggies more interesting in delicious side dishes. Try sauteed zucchini with tomato, basil and a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt.

Don’t forget the rotation. So cauliflower was a ‘one bite’ night. Reintroduce it again in a couple of weeks. Just keep doing this and before you know it, your kids will like it.

USE BRIBERY WHEN REQUIRED
We all grew up with ‘no dessert if you don’t eat dinner’ and ‘no seconds until you clean your plate’. These still work so use them. Ice cream still works wonders as a motivator!