Getting kids to try new or unfamiliar foods is always a tricky business — I don’t pretend to have all the answers! However, in my experience, the biggest battle is just getting them to try the food. Too many times, kids will turn the food away and not even try it because of the way it looks or smells, or just because they don’t recognize what might be in it.

At one of our many family dinners at my sister’s house, her little daughter Lydia was having a hard time eating the food on her plate. My sister turned to her and said, “Take your ‘no-thank-you’ bite, and then you can go play.” I had to ask her what in the world she was talking about. A “no-thank-you” bite? She explained that in her family, when dinner is served, the kids are expected to at least try everything on their plates. If they don’t want to eat all of it, it’s okay. They have to try at least one bite of the food in question, say “no, thank you,” and then they can be excused. Although we’ve always had a similar approach, my husband and I have started to adopt her phrase because it’s a clever way to help them expand their palates.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite children’s books, “Green Eggs and Ham.” Who doesn’t love that story, right? The picky guy just needed to try it, and then he loved it! I try to take the same approach with my kids. I tell them that they’ll probably love it if they just try it. About half of the time, I’m right. They taste it, and they love it. The other half of the time, they painfully swallow it down and then tell me that they didn’t like it very much. I always thank them for trying and tell them that it’s okay, because if they keep trying and trying, then someday they might really like it.

If getting a picky eater to eat new foods isn’t a big enough battle, throwing type 1 diabetes into the mix just makes it harder. What happens if you dose ahead of time for a plate full of food that they barely touch? A low is inevitable. It seems easier to just forget the new food and stick with “safe” foods that you’re certain they’ll eat every time. Let me tell you though, the easy way can turn into the lazy way, which will in turn foster poor eating habits.

I approach it this way. At each meal I make sure to give Kaitlyn food that I know she will really love AND a few things that she might raise her eyebrow at. I then ask her to eat all of the usual standby food and try a few of the mystery bites. Here’s where I have to be a little flexible in my dosing. I only dose her for what I’m certain she will really eat. If she ends up surprising me and eating more of the mystery food than expected, I’ll make a correction after the fact. The key is to be flexible.

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.

Related topics:
5 Tips for Parents of Picky Eaters
Disney’s Type 1 Diabetes Recipe Index
Making School Lunch Easy for Everyone

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