Whenever I post these bento lunches or dinners I cook got my family, I get a lot of comments from people asking, “Your kids really eat this? How did you raise such non-picky eaters?” I didn’t realize they were non-picky eaters until these comments!
All of my kids are good eaters who will at least try a bite of something new, and I guess I’ve been taking it for granted?! So I’m sharing with you the rules or things I’ve implemented in my family that might have helped my kids be good eaters.
Sautéed mushrooms & cherry tomatoes in olive oil
Sea salt & garlic powder
Grapes picked fresh from our backyard the morning of
Butter, garlic & olive oil orzo pasta
Steamed sweet potatoes
Roasted Brussels sprouts
1/2 a peach
A chocolate coin
How to Raise a Non-picky Eater
- We have a “3 thank-you bites” rule. Unless they find it too spicy or were allergic to it or some legit excuse like they just don’t want to eat a live, squirmy octopus, they need to take 3 thank-you bites as an appreciation to the person who cooked it, even if they don’t like it.
- I am not a fan of kids menus at restaurants. It actually bothers me that they’re almost always the exact same menus such as chicken nuggets, chicken fingers, macaroni & cheese, or pizza! Not to mention they’re about $2-3 cheaper than an adult menu with way less of a portion and not even good food, so I usually have my kids share two adult meals between the 3 of them, or just have each of them order an adult menu and then take the rest home to eat as leftovers. “Why go out to eat if you’re going to get the same foods all the time at every restaurant?”, you can hear me saying once in awhile. That’s not to say they’ve never gotten a macaroni & cheese kids meal, I let them get it once in a blue moon but most of the time I have them order from the adult menu and they want to eat the same foods I am eating anyway!
- I ate whatever I wanted while pregnant and while I was nursing. Except for monitoring the intake of seafood or a ton of junk food while I was expecting, since some seafood contain high levels of mercury that’s found to be harmful for your baby, and obviously, the less nutritious junk food isn’t good for the baby. I don’t drink alcohol, soda or smoke or eat raw meat, so those weren’t a problem for me to begin with. My personal theory is that when I’m nursing, different foods that I eat produce different tasting milk, thus introducing to the baby different flavors. And my babies weren’t colicky or gave me a reason to seriously worry about what not to eat, so I guess I was lucky.
- I listened to my instincts when feeding my baby. Instead of reading an article on how you shouldn’t feed egg whites, peanut butter, fish, berries, or wheat and adhering to it without question, I trusted my intuition and if it felt okay, I ate it or fed it to the baby. Keep in mind- I solely breastfed my babies until they were at least 9 months old, some I went as long as 18 months. I didn’t feed my baby popcorn or grapes or things that they can choke easily, but fed them peanut butter, fish, egg whites, berries and wheat after they turned about 1.
- I introduced them to a lot of variety of foods from different cultures after they initially started with rice cereal and poi(Hawaiian food that my husband said was one of the best things babies can eat), and baby foods of pureed fruits and vegetables. This is when they are curious, excited and the most open-minded about trying different kinds of foods! So take advantage of that trust and open-mindedness to have them try a variety!
- “You don’t know if you’ll like it until you try it.” is a phrase I said to my kids until they now say it themselves while trying a new vegetable or something that doesn’t look very appealing because that’s of course true, how are you going to know you don’t like it if you haven’t even tried it? Unless it’s something way off your comfort zone like the live octopus I mentioned(Koreans love that stuff!), then you don’t have to try it.
- If you don’t like dinner, that’s too bad. If you don’t like the food I made for you, then you don’t get another option. If you found it too spicy, or the food is causing discomfort, then I’ll make something else for you, but those are the exceptions. My kids are not allergic to anything that we are aware of, so that’s not an issue for us either. You eat what me and dad eat and make for you, I am not going to make another meal for you because you’d rather eat macaroni & cheese(which I’ve only made for them once in their lifetime, my girls recently told me disapprovingly).
- I continue to cook many different types of foods from different countries for dinner. My kids love oxtail soup & kimchi from Korea, fish balls & black bean paste from China, tamarind sauce from Thai, duck, raw fish, squid, octopus, oysters, mussels, to name a few. Introducing them to many different types of foods helps them to be open minded and adventurous with their food.
I believe having these guidelines and rules have helped my kids to be non-picky eaters and by eating a variety of foods that each offer different nutrients and benefits, they are able to live a healthy life.
How do you provide a healthy lifestyle for your family?