What healthy eating is, is different for everyone. It depends on so much, including preferences, allergies/intolerances, culture, availability, religious beliefs, and what your specific nutritional needs are.
Specifically, when feeding kids, it’s important to introduce them to different food cultures and flavours. Not only different dishes, but even different spices. This helps make confident, adventurous eaters and allows them to develop their own food preferences. Parents can be powerful role models in this aspect – branching out themselves to try different foods and flavours. Showing your kids that by trying new foods you may find something you really enjoy and being open to new foods is a positive thing. This helps it become a normal way for the family to eat and explore foods.
This nutrition month, the expression “Don’t yuck my yum” has been talked about. This is in reference to racism around Asian food being seen as “different” or “exotic”, and making whiteness the standard. I feel there is an extension of this expression to food and what healthy eating is that encompasses all the factors that make healthy eating different for everyone. As mentioned above, this expression definitely resonates the cultural aspect, but using this term with kids around preferences, allergies, intolerances, availability, etc is important too.
Lunch hour at school can be a shock for kids. From a young age they suddenly start comparing what they eat versus what other people are eating. This can be very upsetting for them. Empowering them with the phrase “don’t yuck my yum” provides them with a tool for their toolkit (or lunchbox in this case). Whether it’s food from their culture, or foods that bring out the “gross” comments, kids can use this phrase to help normalize whatever it is that they find yummy.
Let’s set our kids up to succeed with their eating. Let’s create adventurous eaters, however that healthy eating is provided in your family.
Looking for more ways to help your kids become more adventurous eaters? Contact Jill, Nurture The Future's Registered Dietitian at firstname.lastname@example.org