5 Rules to Get Your Kids to Eat Anything

It’s been rumored for years that little French children will eat anything. Supposedly, there is nothing too slimy, off-colored or potent that they won’t at least try. Now, parent readers. We know what you’re thinking. “How do I get my kids to be like that?”

According to French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen Le Billon, there are 10 basic rules to help improve your child’s eating habits—even for the pickiest of eaters.

Granted, some of these rules may be up for discussion but hear Karen out (because her 7-year-old’s favorite foods are beets, leeks and mussels and her 3-year-old’s favorites are olives, red peppers and creamed spinach).

We’ll give you the first five rules, and if you’re interested you can check out the book for yourselves for the remaining five.

Rule #1: Parents are in charge of educating their kids about food.
We’re all about kids developing independence. But save that for dressing themselves and brushing their teeth. When it comes to food, you have to teach them to appreciate all kinds of food.

And know this, French psychologists have assessed the average number of times a child will have to try a new food before they willingly agree to eat them. And that number is seven.

Rule #2: Avoid emotional eating.
This may sound like a tip from a diet book. But we promise it’s not. Avoid offering rewards (if you eat all of your [vegetable], you can have a [dessert]). Bribes won’t work. Kids eventually learn that they can always make a bargain. And they shouldn’t be allowed to. They are to eat what is in front of them.

Rule #3: No short-order cooking.
Kids eat what parents eat, when parents eat it. This isn’t just about making mealtimes more convenient for you. It’s important that your children be given opportunities to try a variety of foods (and witness you enjoying them).

Rule #4: Eat family meals together.
This is tough anymore. But it’s worth the trouble of scheduling. Mealtime should be something everyone looks forward to. And kids learn that meals are meant to be eaten properly at the table.

Rule #5: “You don’t have to like it, but you do have to taste it.”
Say this whenever necessary. Even adults have troubles trying “weird” foods. But here again that try it 7 times rule comes in. If a child makes a face, it’s probably because they haven’t tried it enough times. Don’t give up.

These rules take time to implement. And your kids probably won’t like them at first. But with patience and dedication, they’ll open your children’s eyes to the delightful variety of tastes in this world. And hopefully in doing so, make mealtimes more enjoyable for your entire family.