top of page

8 Tips for Expanding Your Family's Palette

Listen to this podcast episode here.


Watch the live recording of this podcast episode on YouTube here.





Alright, today I want to talk about one of the things that I see holding people back from using Flare Free food as medicine.


If you're new here, or you need a refresher, "Flare Free" food is gluten/dairy/sugar/corn/soy/peanut free and anti-inflammatory comfort food that won't cause autoimmune flare-ups.


It's food you can use at the beginning of your journey, it's food you can use when you're ready to come off AIP, or Whole 30, or Keto, the Wahl's Protocol, or whatever ultra-restrictive diet you've most recently tried...


It's food that I used to cook for cancer patients when I was the executive chef of the Heimerdinger Foundation in Nashville for 3 1/2 years...


It's the same food I used at the beginning of my healing journey, and the same food hundreds of my clients eat today.


Alright, now that we're clear on that, one of the things I see holding A LOT of people in my community back from using Flare Free foods as medicine is that they have "picky" eaters at home.


Now I say "picky" in quotes because I believe most kids aren't inherently "picky". Learn more about that in my podcast episode, "Is your picky eater REALLY picky?".


But sooo many of my students are moms and they're basically letting their kids dictate their healing journey.


Which sounds a bit harsh, but it's true!


So many moms come to me saying they know they need to eat better...


Their doctor prescribed them an anti-inflammatory diet and that's how they found me, but they're too sick and tired to make multiple meals each night so they'd rather not bother trying to make anything new even if it means they'll just stay sick or get even sicker.


And listen, I get it. I work full-time and I have a 10 year old at home. Even though I raised her to be an adventurous eater from the jump (which is actually the easier way to approach this - so maybe I'll do a podcast episode about that next), she's no stranger to turning her nose up at something she thinks she "doesn't like" before she's even tried it.


Some of what I'm going to teach you today are concepts I've learned from childhood dietitians but all are techniques I've used successfully for my daughter at home so I'm really confident that with the right approach and consistency, they will work for you too!


So without further adieu...


HERE ARE 8 TIPS FOR EXPANDING YOUR FAMILY'S PALETTE SO YOU CAN STOP COOKING MULTIPLE MEALS AND ALL START EATING FLARE FREE:


1.) SET BOUNDARIES AROUND MEALTIMES


You are the parent. It's okay to set boundaries around which foods your family eats and which foods they don't eat. Period. Point blank. End of sentence.


You're not the "bad mom" just because you insist your kids eat their nutrients. Just like you tell them they can't go to the bathroom without washing their hands afterwards, or throw their dirty clothes on the floor, you are allowed to insist your children eat nutrient dense foods so they can grow up healthy.


Another boundary I encourage you set is that they are not allowed to eat anything separate from what the rest of the family is eating. We are no longer making separate meals. They are the child and you are the parent. Until they start paying for groceries and cooking, it is YOUR job to decide what's for dinner. It's their job to eat.


The last boundary I encourage you set is that snacks are snacks. Meals are meals. And dessert is dessert. 


We're not serving a snack as a meal and we're not serving a dessert as a snack. This gives you an easy explanation you can throw out when your family starts griping about what's on the buffet.


Now, before we get into the other 7 tips I have for you, I want to make one important note:


Approach all of this rom a place of love but be firm and be consistent. And feel free to set any other boundaries you see fit.


2.) SET BOUNDARIES AROUND THE LANGUAGE OF FOOD


Don't allow your kids to say things like, "I don't like it" or "That's yucky" or "Ewww".


This allows them to form negative thoughts, language, and emotions around food which can lead to disordered eating and elicit an emotional response from you as the parent cooking the food.


The last thing we need as parents is to be rejected and talked down to by a toddler. We get enough of that in other areas in life - we don't need it from our kids.


Not only does it just not feel good when someone has a visceral response to a meal you set in front of them, it will discourage you from cooking new recipes and trying new ingredients - which is the exact opposite of what we want here.


So kindly but firmly tell them "We don't say ewww" or, "We don't say, 'I don't like that'" or whatever the case may be and give them an alternative.


For example, I like to suggest my daughter says, "That's not my favorite right now" or "I wasn't craving that today."


See how that comes across easier than "EWWW!"


"YUCKY"


"I DON'T LIKE THIS"


"GROSS"


Etc.?


3.) GET YOUR KIDS INVOLVED IN THE KITCHEN


Statistically, kids are more likely to try new foods when they've had a hand in cooking them. So even though it's going to slow you down and make big mess, this can be a really easy way to get your kids to try new ingredients. Start on a weekend with an easy dish and have everything measured out for them so they can just dump and stir. Don't try to let them help you make breakfast before you have to get them off to school in the morning.


4.) SERVE YOUR MEALS FAMILY STYLE AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO TAKE A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING ON THE BUFFET 


This gives them autonomy about how much of everything they put on the plate - lessening the anxiety and frustration about having to eat a lot of something they "don't like".


REMEMBER: You have to try something upwards of 21 times to like it. It's just like building a new habit. Changing your taste buds takes time. But it is possible!


I grew up refusing to eat a lot of different things that like tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, strawberries, pineapple, green beans, cantaloupe and oranges.


My daughter used to refuse to eat mushrooms, egg yolks, and fish.


We both eat all of these things today.


Changing your tastebuds is possible. You don't know you "don't like" something if you haven't tried it. That's why it's so important to encourage them to take a little bit of everything on the buffet.


You could make a game out of it if you'd like - keeping a tally of every time your family member tries a specific food and then rewarding them with a little prize once they reach their 21st try!


5.) SERVE “SAFE FOODS” WITH EACH MEAL


For every new ingredient you introduce, serve something you know they like. They are more likely to try new things if there's something on the buffet they are familiar with.


6.) ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO TRY EVERYTHING ON THEIR PLATE ONCE


Use this specific language every time they push back:


"You can have as much or as little of anything you would like but you have to try everything ONCE."


You'd be surprised by how many times you have to remind them of this.


They don't have to eat everything on their plate.


But they have to try everything once.


Stay calm. Talk without inflection. Be matter of fact and just repeat the same thing over and over.


DO NOT:

-Sigh

-Outburst

-Ask them why they are so difficult

-Whine

-Complain about them being "picky"


Just matter of fact-ly say these exact words:


"You can have as much or as little as you'd like. But you have to try everything once. You don't have to eat everything on your plate. You can spit out anything you don't like. But you have to try everything once. And you can eat as much or as little of anything you'd like."


See how that gives them autonomy over their meal?


So if they don't like something, it's now their problem.


Not yours.


Your job is to provide them with healthy meals and to provided them with multiple options. They get to choose how much of everything they eat.


7.) BE VERY CLEAR ON THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT EATING AT MEALTIMES


Be very clear on what happens if they only choose to eat a small amount of 1-2 things on the buffet. (This goes back to setting boundaries around mealtimes.)


Try using this exact language: 


"You can eat as much or as little as you'd like but the next time we eat isn't going to be until dinner time. So this is all we have to eat right now."


NOTE: If they are eating very small amounts of 1-2 foods at breakfast or lunch, make sure to reiterate that the next time we eat isn't until snack time at XYZ time. They are not allowed to eat little at breakfast or lunch and immediately go grab a bunch of snacks from the pantry.


They have to wait for snack time.


And pro tip: if they choose to eat very little for breakfast or lunch, make sure you prepare them a fresh snack. Do not offer them a packaged snack after that. Not as a punishment, but as a way to ensure they are getting their nutrients in, right? Because now, they have forgone their intake of nutrients at meal times, so you have to sneak it in at snack time.


So whatever fresh snacks they like - cucumbers and Ranch, apples and peanut butter, etc.


DO NOT MENTION THIS TO THEM. We are not here to punish them for their food choices. That does not encourage adventurous eating.


If they fuss over the snack you serve, just gently but firmly say "This is what we have right now for snack. You can eat at much or as little as you'd like but the next time we eat isn't going to be until Lunchtime at 12 PM (or Dinnertime at 5 PM)."


Allowing your kids to constantly graze on ultra processed packaged snacks all day long is only feeding their selective eating.


When you have constant all-day access to highly processed, packaged foods, those foods are highly addictive. Not only the hidden addictive food additives they put in those packaged snacks to get you to continue buying them, but the high sodium levels, the high sugar levels, the ultra crunchy, crispy textures...


All of these things set off the pleasure receptors in our brains and we literally produce serotonin and dopamine when we eat them.


So giving them full access to these types of foods any time they "don't like" a meal, is only helping to keep them "picky".


So again...don't be afraid to enforce boundaries around mealtimes, repeat yourself until the message gets through to them and keep reminding them that this is all they have to eat right now.


Keeping in mind that we are not punishing them. We are just trying our best to ensure they eat their nutrients so they can grow up healthy and strong.


8.) SET UP A REWARD SYSTEM IF NECESSARY 


Another thing you can do to help you get all of this down pat is to set up a reward system.

Not a reward system for how "good" they eat. Right? We want to get away from labeling foods as "good" and "bad", and we don't want to label kids as "good eaters" or "bad eaters". We don't want to help our kids develop an eating disorder as they age, right?


BUT...


And this is a big but...


We CAN set up a reward system for good listening.


So here's what we do.


We get a zip lock bag of pom poms and a mason jar.


Every time our daughter listens and does what we ask her to do, she gets to drop a pom pom in the jar.


So it's not about, "...if you eat everything on your plate..."


Or..."if you eat your vegetables..."


It's, "Thank you for putting a little bit of everything on your plate, please go put a pom pom in the jar."


"Thank you for trying one bite of everything, please go put a pom pom in the jar."


"Thank you for using kind language at dinnertime. Please go put a pom pom in the jar."


And when the jar is full, she gets to pick a present or an experience of her choosing.


Depending on your child's love language, you can decide what you want to offer them. A girl's day with mommy, movie night with dad, a zoo trip, etc.


Or...you can give them like $30 to spend at the toy store or something.


Feel free to customize this for your child.


What we SHOULD NOT do is reward them with food.


So it's not..."Fill up this jar and I'll take you for ice cream."


"Fill up this jar and you can pick out whatever snacks you want at the store."


"Fill up this jar and you can order dessert at the restaurant."


Just like we are careful to not use negative language and emotions around food, we should be extra careful to not reward our kids for good behavior with food.


Because again, this can lead to disordered eating later on in life. Bing eating, emotional eating, stress eating, etc.


Alright, so just to recap really quickly, here are my 8 tips for expanding your family's palette so you all can get on board with eating Flare Free and you can put an end to the short order cooking multiple meals for multiple food preferences in the household:


1.) Set boundaries around mealtimes

2.) Set boundaries around the language of food

3.) Get your kids involved in the kitchen

4.) Serve your meals family style and encourage them to take a little bit of everything on their plate

5.) Serve “safe foods” with each meal

6.) Encourage your child to eat everything on their plate ONCE

7.) Be very clear on the consequences of not eating at mealtimes

8.) Set up a reward system if necessary





If your spouse is also a “picky” eater, ask them to please follow along with everything you are implementing with the kids. Your spouse CAN NOT be using negative language around food and poo-pooing your meals, and/or your efforts to implement these strategies if you want this to work.


If they are not willing to try any of these strategies on themselves, the bare minimum they must do is stay quiet and not combat you while you are trying to implement these strategies. You both have to be a team and have consistent messaging for any of this to work.


If YOU are the “picky” eater in the house…


As yourself, “Am I willing to give up the foods that make me sick? What’s harder? Giving up the foods that make me sick or getting sicker?”


Because the data is there. Chronic inflammation is responsible for more than 50% of deaths WORLDWIDE. 


And embracing an anti-inflammatory diet is the #1 way to lessen chronic inflammation and decrease the risk of death by heart disease, diabetes, autoimmunity, obesity, etc. 


And by the way, one thing I haven't even mentioned yet...start with foods you are familiar with.


The easiest way to embrace an anti-inflammatory diet is not trying to make yourself love anti-inflammatory foods, but rather…


Making the foods you love anti-inflammatory.


So rather than trying to make yourself love wild salmon with organic brown rice and steamed broccoli…


Try making gluten/dairy/sugar/corn/soy/peanut free and anti-inflammatory lasagna, pasta, burgers, chicken noodle soup, mashed potatoes, enchiladas, tacos, etc.

 

Whatever you like! There’s a way to make it Flare Free. I promise. I have over 451 comforting anti-inflammatory weeknight dinner + bonus holiday recipes inside my Flare Free Through the Seasons Online Meal Plan Database and 60 quick-cooking breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert meal plan recipes in The Meal Prep Solution, my 6-Week, Self-Paced Meal Prep Program.


If you absolutely hate vegetables, try sneaking veggies into as many meals as humanly possible…


…Meatballs, meatloaf, soups, stews, pasta sauces, mashed potatoes, etc. are all great vehicles for hidden vegetables. 


You got this.


You can do it.


You just have to believe in your ability to make it happen, believe in the possibility of a healthier you, and give it a shot. 


Tasting is believing.


If you need recipes, head to cheflaurarodriguez.com/freemealplan and download my FREE Quick Family-Friendly Dinners Meal Plan and get cooking!


xo,


Laura


Comentários


bottom of page