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Taste Training: Raising Healthy Eaters

January 20, 2015 by Sophia Baker-French, Registered Dietitian

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“Taste training” is about learning healthy eating as a life skill. The term has been gaining in popularity, but it is far from a new trend for parents seeking to teach their kids to enjoy healthy foods. Taste training is rooted in tried and true recommendations to support children to embrace a variety of healthy foods.Here are some everyday practices to support your child to learn healthy eating as a life skill.

  1. Empower your child. Let them decide how much they eat based on their own hunger and fullness. To do this, offer nutritious foods at regularly timed meal or snack times and allow your child to freely decide if they will eat the foods offered and how much. This also helps to avoid power struggles over food. Read more about Feeding Jobs for Parents and Toddlers – these roles apply to older children too.
  2. Enjoy family meals together. This supports healthy eating habits. Keep meals positive and relaxed by focusing on spending time together. Coming to the dinner table can be enjoyable for everyone. Making Family Meals Enjoyable offers some practical tips.
  3. Lead by example. Children who see their role models eating and enjoying healthy foods are more likely to accept those foods themselves. Plus, you get all the benefits of healthy eating! Visit Better Together for great information on making family meals happen.
  4. Make one meal for the whole family. This teaches children to eat a varied diet. Making separate, special meals for children does not help them learn to eat healthy. Health Canada has more about Planning Meals and Dean’s blog Meals: Plan, Make, Eat, and Enjoy offers additional practical tips.
  5. Aim to keep regular meal and snack times. When kids come to the table hungry (not famished), they are more likely to eat the foods being offered. Create balanced family meals by using foods from three or four food groups from Canada’s Food Guide. This way you’re sure to get lots of variety.
  6. Involve children in choosing and preparing food. Participating in the selection and preparation of foods can be a positive learning experience. Children will often happily eat foods they’ve chosen in the store, grown, picked or helped cook. Health Canada has tips on Cooking with Kids, including age-specific guidelines. How to Get Your Child to Eat More Veggies offers tips on how to get kids involved with food.

The bottom line: Children can learn to love a variety of healthy foods with training. By consistently offering balanced nutritious foods at regular meal and snack times, by role modeling healthy eating and by getting kids involved with their food, children will learn this important life skill.

Learn more on creating Healthy Habits for a Healthy Life.


Related resources:

Healthy Families BC: Preventing Picky Eating in Toddlers
Dietitians of Canada: Tips on Feeding Your Picky Toddler or Preschooler

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