Educating kids about food, from source to plate

Don’t Yuck my Yum!

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by Wendy Jeffries, TasteWise Kids Executive Director

For those of us helping kids learn healthy eating habits – whether you are a parent, educator, family friend, aunt, etc. – knowing what to say and even more importantly, what to model as good behavior, can be tricky. In our house, we follow the same two food rules we use with our students here at TasteWise Kids:

  1. Take at least 2 bites of any new food.
  2. “Don’t yuck my yum”

Frankly, these rules are just as appropriate to use in adult-only situations too.

If you are looking to understand the science behind the first rule, research shows it’s more like 10-15 times before a person can determine if he or she likes it. This is because it takes time for your tastebuds to adjust and then get used to the taste and texture of new items. And you have to try them at different times (so trying eating the entire bowl of brussel sprouts in one sitting won’t do it).

As for “don’t yuck my yum,” it’s not just fun to say. It also helps kids to understand that when it comes to food, it’s not “wrong” or “right.” Instead, people can like different foods and that is completely ok. My 5 year-old has added to the phrase to say “it’s ok to Yum my Yuck” which I think is as important. We also talk about how you might not like a food prepared one way but might enjoy it another way. For example, I’m not a fan of raw cauliflower but can eat bowls of roasted cauliflower.

If you are looking for more tips for helping your young people form healthy eating habits, this recent column by Erika Sweeney is one of the best I’ve read in a while. Her message about how even well-meaning comments can have a big impact on a child’s body image and relationship with food is an important one for us all to remember. Looking for some simple suggestions for healthy foods kids might enjoy? Check out this article that focuses on our youngest eaters.