Trying New Foods
The most common statement that I often hear from parents, who are told that they should change their child’s diet, is that they are afraid their child will starve, because they never try new foods.
Many children with special needs are afraid to try new foods and experience new textures. They become so accustomed to what they usually eat that tasting anything new is frightening.
What I suggest to parents is to not force a new food onto their child. Try going 50/50. For example, if you are trying to wean a child from cow’s milk, try adding some new/alternative “milk,” such as rice, almond, hemp or coconut to the milk that they are used to drinking now. You might want to start with an 80/20 beverage mixture first and later adding more of the new substance, if they are not noticing the difference right away (do not let them see you pouring!).
If you want to introduce a new bread, (gluten free, for example), use one slice of familiar bread and one slice of the new bread in a sandwich. Pick a favorite meat or nut butter, so that the child will not focus on the new bread. Find one that emulates the bread he or she is used to eating.
One suggestion when trying a new fruit or vegetable is to allow the child to lick the food first, to get a feeling of the texture and taste. Another option is to include a dip. Kids seem to love to dip foods into something for fun and additional flavor. Items to try are: yogurt, dressings, sauces, melted cheese (or Daiya for a dairy free option), agave nectar, nut butters, cream cheese, sour cream, pudding, butter, olive oil, ketchup, mustard or another favorite condiment.
Try adding flavor to foods with a variety of spices. Again, let the child lick just a bit to experience the new flavor. Some favorite spices are: ginger, garlic, or cinnamon. Use a light amount at first and then, if the child likes the flavor, you can gradually add more to your dishes.
Make an effort to be creative with your child’s food. Create cute designs, such as a caterpillar that looks like a character in Eric Carle’s book. Use a slice of a tomato or a piece of cheese, cut-up apples, and fruit leather cut into shapes.
Bring a smile to a child’s face by spreading nut butter onto apples and inserting mini marshmallows inside for teeth. Display fruit in cute ways, to represent birds, animals, butterflies or other figures. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes into cheese, fruits and vegetables or protein sources to arrange to look pretty on a plate.
Eggs make for an assortment of imaginative ideas. Try making deviled eggs with cute faces. Scrambled eggs make fun, fluffy hair for your pancakes. Sunny side up eggs, using the yolks for eyes can make some really charming faces. Cut a shape into a piece of bread, place it in a skillet, add an egg in the open hole and cook until done.
Maybe you will even want to design food to look fun with your child using a favorite book or photo. Don’t be afraid to even use a half drawn photo and then add food to complete the picture.
The Internet will provide you with many ideas of food fun. Try Pinterest or just “google” a shape that you would like to make and click on “images” to view a variety of creative ideas.
You might be surprised at what your child will eat, if you give them the time to enjoy some foods that you might not think they would enjoy, by being creative and imaginative and introducing new foods that might be great additions to your family.
Barrie Silberberg is the author of The Autism & ADHD Diet: A Step-by-Step Guide To Hope and Healing by Living Gluten Free and Casein Free (GFCF) And Others Interventions. Her web site is: www.puttingyourkidsfirst.com
All Images courtesy Pinterest
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This post originally appeared on our March/April 2014 Magazine