The future of food culture today is so different than what it was years ago. Even a typical lunch is never simple today, and you might often find yourself reviewing the taste and textures in it. This power to appreciate food, not only the flavours, but also the textures and aromas, starts at a young age. If you encourage your toddler or pre-teen to become a foodie, then picky eating will be the last worry on your mind. These young foodies will love trying out new foods, recipes, and will even understand the health benefits of different ingredients. They will love to cook, bake, and learn everything about food. Raising a foodie is very easy if you follow these tips:

  1. Kids usually like to eat what their parents eat. So if you are adventurous with different types of foods and cuisines, they will be too. Also involve them in the kitchen to help you cook meals and learn about simple techniques.
  2. The best way to encourage their curiosity about food is to cook along with them. When children learn the art of cooking at an early age, they nurture that passion throughout their life. Finding recipes and cooking together can also strengthen your bond with the child and you both will get to share a common interest.
  3. Joining a cooking class only for kids will teach them about food safety, storage, presentation and future food technology. It will also boost their math skills as they measure ingredients. This way, kids will also get to socialize with like-minded young foodies.
  4. In addition to flavour, focus on all the other sensory qualities of a dish, like aroma, colour and texture. Encourage them to appreciate all these qualities in a meal.
  5. Take your kids to different restaurants and make them try new dishes prepared in a variety of styles. Encourage them to compare dishes prepared at a restaurant with the ones at home. It would be great if they can see the meals prepared in the restaurant and you can have a discussion about the ingredients and the cooking methods used.
  6. Expose your toddler to as many different cuisines, flavours, and textures, as you can. Do not stop them from trying cuisines from different countries, apart from the local, familiar ones.
  7. Taste preferences start developing from the womb itself. So, do not hesitate to eat a variety of dishes while you are pregnant unless your doctor has advised you against some.
  8. Serve food in nice plates or bowls so that your kids know the value of presentation of food. Be very mindful of the presentation even when they grow up to become a teenager. Serve the food in fancy plates and you can even give them fancy names.
  9. Inform your child about the source of each food item. Encourage them to eat organically grown foods.
  10. Do not associate any negative words with foods. Let them explore foods in their own way.
  11. Encourage them to taste all kinds of flavours, wherever they are, so that they can associate different food ingredients with different flavours.
  12. Encourage them to pair familiar dishes with exciting flavours, like cucumbers with a yoghurt dip, and ask them if they like it.
  13. Do not bribe kids with food as they will tend to dislike such foods later. Give them what they like along with a few options. Make sure mealtimes are fun and relaxing.
  14. Do not worry much if your kid is eating less during mealtimes. Pressuring them can lead to outright refusals. Make sure whatever they eat is healthy and their weekly intake is adequate.
  15. Teach your kids to appreciate shapes and textures from a young age. This will even help develop hand-eye coordination.
  16. Remember that mealtimes might get messy and you will need to deal with that. Consider getting plastic mats, bibs and napkins to teach kids cleanliness.
  17. Take your kids grocery shopping with you and teach them all about the colours, textures of different vegetables and fruits and where the produce comes from.

It is not necessary to present high tech food in front of your children to get them interested. Simple everyday dishes, when prepared well and presented aesthetically, can appeal to their eyes, nose, and taste buds too.