Children are just starting their journey of discovering the many flavors in the world and how their bodies interact with what they consume. It’s an evolving journey as their palates mature and inner wisdom grows. But they do have sensitive palates and strong opinions! As parents it can be frustrating when our kids resist (strenuously!) when we try to introduce new food that they decide is a No-Go before the plate even touches the table.

Researchers found that kids who tried a veggie they initially did not like 8 or 9 times began to like it more.  Other research states some kids will take up to 20 times to eat a new food.

In addition to cooking ingredients different ways (puree, bake, mix in, etc.) presenting them differently on a plate (different size/shape, in its own smaller dish, on top of another food, etc.), and having kids help prepare food so they have more connection to it before eating, the below game supports relating to food with a more objective, sensory-oriented approach. It also helps increase attention to detail. This can help get out of a repeated negative narrative and tune into what is actually physically in front of them.

Do it

Set this up as a short game where the kids are exploring a new food like explorers discovering food on the moon or like the person who first discovered an orange or strawberry. Try this when everyone is in a good mood – stress reduces cooperation and can actually alter taste.

  1. Breathe: Close your eyes and take a deep breath.
  2. Look: When your eyes open, look closely at this “new” food and describe what you think it will taste like.
  3. Smell: Notice how it smells before you taste it.
  4. Taste: Put a small bit on your tongue and use 3 words to describe the taste.
  5. Flavor: How does the flavor change as you begin to chew it and it dissolves? Can you notice multiple flavors in it?
  6. Aftertaste: Can you still taste it after you swallow?
  7. Ingredients: What ingredients do you think make up this food? (Note: another simple game to help kids engage a bit more with their food is to play ‘guess the ingredients’ or ‘can you guess my secret ingredient’ with any food desired.)
  8. No Smell: Now hold your nose as you take another bite. How does the taste change?
  9. 3rd Bite: Take a 3rd bite (not holding your nose!) and describe how the flavor has evolved. (less intense? more intense as the temperature gets closer to room temperature?)
  10. Compare: Try a bite of a different food and describe how the taste compares (saltier? sweeter? ‘greener’? …)
  11. Name it: As an explorer they get to name this new food they identified. What would they call it? (get ready for some creative suggestions!)

Their answers are the beginning of their nascent kinsho!