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Reasons to Play with Food Outside of Mealtimes

Last Updated: 7 August 2016

The more exposure that your child has to fruits and vegetables, the more likely they are to learn about them and eat them.

The operative word here is EXPOSURES.

But how do we keep giving exposures without generating waste, mess and battles at the table?

One of many strategies to remember is that not all exposures have to be during mealtimes. Reasons for exposure opportunities outside of mealtimes include:
1) There is no pressure to eat the foods in this environment.  Some children are very sensitive to pressure in a range of forms, even when it is not verbal or even when it is positive praise.
2) Play is packed with other learning opportunities, language building, motor planning, sensory resilience building & social skill building
3) Having fun keeps us all sane.  Your positive energy at play times is infectious.
4) Helps kids move up the first steps to eating hierarchy (tolerate, interact with, touch, smell .. etc)
5) Improves familiarity
6) It will help them understand the tangible properties of those fruits & vegies.  Therefore, the amount of “new information” they have to process about them at the meal time is reduced.

Have you ever said to your mum /partner / friend  “oh don’t give him/her that, they won’t eat it”

Yes?

Well you wouldn’t be alone, I would always to it too! Why did I hate saying it ?
A) It comes out of my mouth before I even think about what I’m saying
B) If my daughter heard me it would strengthen her belief that she doesn’t eat it
C) I just took away a chance for another exposure.

I worked really hard on getting this phrase out of my vocabulary (it took a while).

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Here are a few exposures we have had to some fruits and vegetables outside of mealtimes:

1) Helping out in the kitchen to make kohlrabi flat breads. You can watch our live (candid and far-from-perfect) video show here on Nom.  By helping grate the kohlrabi, she was being exposed to it! She asks questions about it too.

2) We talked about artichokes, looked at pictures (on the internet) and then went to buy them at the green grocer. Here is the best bit – By doing that pre-work with her meant that when all else failed trying to get her off the Peppa Pig coin operated ride at the shops, I simply said “do you want to go & buy the artichokes now?” And within a second she was by my side ready to go. I used the artichokes to make this tomato, lemon and artichoke bread.

3) Tracing around corn on the paper.  It is also a great language building time by talking about the bumpy surface, the colour “lello” and writing the word C O R N inside.

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4) Broccoli painting (pic at top). Obviously needing a little extra patience on your part, painting is great for sensory exposures. If you are looking for edible paint idea though – to keep it extra safe for little hands. Look at this post on edible vegetable painting.

5) Play with Brussels Sprouts (5 games to get your little one engaged with these love-to-loath vegetable world underdogs.)

 

This broccoli exposure was during our pre-dinner play (a vital step in my mealtime routine), so I wanted to use broccoli in our dinner. I used the rest of the head of broccoli to make a chicken, broccoli and almond dish with rice noodles.

Obviously the sky is the limit with vegie craft ideas & this is just some of what we have done in our house. Have you done a great fruit & veg exposure craft? – comment below!

 

 

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