What does shark meat and family meals have in common?!
I used to be the world’s biggest picky eater. Yes, me. Even in adulthood, I used to be scared to try any new foods. I would order the same thing every time I went out to eat.
So would you believe I willingly tried shark meat during that phase of my life? I couldn’t believe it either.
Funny enough, my experience that day is the perfect example of something every family should do with their children – especially the picky eaters! This is the very first step in getting your picky eater to trust food. Without this step, all the tricks and strategies in the world won’t work.
Let me tell you how I came to eat shark, and what it has to do with your family meals.
For my best friend’s wedding, we went to Mexico. The resort had some of the most delicious food I’ve ever tasted. I mean, it was divine! Everyone would sit down together for meals.
As an excursion, the boys went deep water fishing and one of them caught a shark. The resort’s restaurant took their big catch and prepared six different dishes with the shark meat. Each dish had a different flavour and different style.
The thought of eating shark had never before crossed my mind.
However, as I watched everyone at the table try several pieces, I was more and more intrigued. I observed them as they took their first bites. Not one single person turned up their nose. In fact, they all started raving about how delicious it was.
Judging from their facial expressions, I could tell that they sincerely enjoyed it. I finally braved one small piece of breaded shark and my world was forever changed. It was one of the best tasting meats I’ve ever had.
To think, I never would have tried it if I wasn’t sitting at a table full of people who I could tell loved it.
How does that help you with your picky eater at home?
I’m sure you have heard before how important it is to sit down and eat as a family. You may even be so tired of hearing that! Truly though, it is the baseline for building up your kiddos’ food courage.
One of the very first changes I ask families to make is to have as many meals together as possible. That may look different in each house, but essentially whoever is looking after the child(ren), should sit and eat with them.
I know it can be difficult in our busy days to make sure we are all sitting and eating at the same time. It’s tempting to do the dishes, clear the counters, or even continue to cook more food while the little ones are busy with their food.
Plus, if you have a baby and a toddler, even if they are 2 years apart, there’s a timeframe when it’s quite hard to match morning wake up, meals, naps, and bedtimes. It can be challenging to have the whole family sit down at the same time!
In the end, it is worth it. You see, our little ones learn so much just by watching us. That’s why being a good role model counts more than you think. We need to eat the same foods right along with them.
We need to show them with our facial expressions that we enjoy it! Just like I could tell from the people eating the shark meat.
It might take them a while to understand what they are seeing, but they will pick up on your cues. By eating with them, you’re showing them the foods are safe and tasty.
Not only that, but mealtimes are a great opportunity to have fun with your munchkins. Play games, relax, have fun, and even let them help you prepare meals!
It takes approximately 10 bites of a food – on separate occasions – before you can decide if you like it or not. (So when your kids take one bite and say, “I don’t like it” you can tell them that ;)). That’s where consistency comes into play.
Don’t overthink it!
Family meals don’t have to mean making an intricate, 7-course meal with everyone at the table every meal of every day.
It’s much simpler than that.
It literally means just sit and eat with your child. That’s not too bad of a change to make! It will also be a good chance for you to take a moment to relax. Chat with your partner and your little ones.
Let me know in the comments below how you are going to implement this in your home! Or – maybe you already have family meals regularly. I’d love to hear about that as well.
If you are interested in learning more about how to interact with your child at the table and get them to expand their food choices, I have a great program called From Picky to Eating.
Or, if you have any questions about feeding your picky eater, book a call with me and let’s chat!
And if you prefer to watch the video from the facebook live, here it is ;).