Mealtimes can be an ordeal when one has picky eaters at home. Getting kids to the table and getting them to finish their meal is sometimes a tough job. Kids often form an opinion about the food even before they have put the first morsel into their mouths! It can be frustrating when you cook up something nutritious only to be rejected because it didn’t look very fun. So here are a few ways you can make meals more fun!
Presentation: This is one of the major factors that have a direct effect on the kids opinion of the food being served. Parents can experiment with various colours, fun plates/cutlery, using different cutters and molds for presenting food in various shapes, skewers, food picks. For example, my kids love it when I make a dosa in the shape of a Mickey Mouse or make it into a crispy cone and call it a hat dosa. These make meals more fun and children will love it for sure.
Give personalized names for food: It could be fun cartoon names or any made up name of your choice. When I used to make deep shallow fried dosa batter balls for my kids, I named them moon squirters and they were so fascinated. We used to call broccoli florets as trees and pretend that we were giants who eat trees. This was a huge favourite with the kids. This makes them feel that the meal is more interesting and fun.
Get children involved in food selection and preparation: Taking children along while picking up vegetables, fruits and other eatables and talking about it while doing so makes the kids learn about them. They understand the logic of eating each food item . Also, getting them involved in the cooking process and taking their help in doing small things in the kitchen gives them a feeling that they have prepared the dish and hence feel proud to eat it. Many of us don’t want to do it because kids tend to be slow and messy. But the payoff is worth it!
Explore other cultures and their eating habits with your children: Read/learn about foods of various cultures and its benefits. Shop for the ingredients for them together and cook along with your child. By doing so, the kids will always be open to try any new dish and will not hesitate as much to eat. Try eating regular noodles with chopsticks or try out a simple salad from another cuisine or a simple dish like pita bread and hummus which is similar to our chutney and expand the palate of your child.
Make a rule: Try before you cry is a good rule to have in the house. Kids have to try one bite of any new food before they are allowed to reject it. This way, they will get kids to try foods because they know you are not going to force it down their throats.