How Do I Raise a Healthy Adventurous Eater?
Parents ask me all the time, “How do I raise a healthy, adventurous eater?” I tell them about something called Nutritional Intelligence. Nutritional intelligence is the ability to recognize and enjoy healthy amounts of good foods. There’s a window in time between when babies sit up and when they learn to walk that if they’re exposed to a flavor, if they sample a flavor on average 6-10 times, there’s a high likelihood they will learn to love it.
Why should it take 6-10 times? Because in nature, if there’s a food that tastes a little bit bitter, like most vegetables do, it might be toxic. And if there’s a food in nature that tastes a little bit sour, like many fruits do, it might be something that’s spoiled in nature. So, it makes sense they wouldn’t like it on the first bite, but if the parents offer it multiple times, then they can relax and they can think, “Yes! This is a good food for me.”
So, the take-home message is to feed early and often the flavors you want them to learn. Vegetables and fruits and whole grains, a wide variety of flavors, a wide variety of textures, and a wide variety of colors. Now, it’s never too late to learn nutritional intelligence. You can start at any point. In fact, I’m trying to learn to like new flavors right now myself, and doing it. But what a great window of opportunity to start when they’re babies.