“Just Try It!” Getting Kids to Try New Foods Abroad

Kushari (Egyptian Street Food)

Getting kids to try new foods while traveling proves especially challenging with picky eaters–and aren’t they all picky eaters?

There’s nothing more embarrassing than taking a child to a restaurant that specializes in regional food (or, even worse, getting invited into someone’s home) only to hear “Can’t we just go to McDonald’s?”

But don’t lose hope!  Cultivating an adventurous palate in children is a skill, and you can learn it.

Start at Home

Before you even go to a new destination on your worldschooling journey, begin by researching the local specialties of the region you plan to go to.

Then, make some of the most common dishes at home with your kids.

The benefit is multifaceted.

  1.  They learn international cooking, which is a pretty awesome life skill.
  2.  Removing the mystery behind how a dish is made and what’s in it makes them more likely to try it later.
  3.  Kids often need to try new foods 5 or 10 times before they start to enjoy them.

Begin with some cooking lessons at home and you’ll reap the benefits later.

Just say no to fast food and kid’s menus.

As a rule, if you want your kids to try new foods, steering them away from addictive fast food, packaged food and high-sugar processed food is the only way to make that happen.

Sorry.

I know it isn’t easy, and no judgment if you’re a regular at your local drive-through.

But breaking the habit makes culinary adventure so much easier.

It’s pretty simple.

Just stop.

It’ll take a few weeks of whining, but in the end, I promise, they will try stuffed grape leaves long before they starve themselves.

Speaking of which:

Try new foods when they’re hungry.  Like, really hungry.

Americans think children will just drop in the street if they don’t eat for more than 4 hours.

I’m of the philosophy that kids will eat anything if they’re hungry enough.

Out all day on a walking tour in Edinburgh and they’re all moaning that they’re “omg starving“?

Ask them if they want to try haggis.

If the answer is no, trust me, they ain’t that hungry.

Don’t make them clean their plates.

Trying any new food is a success—even if it’s just one bite.

Don’t order a full meal of exotic-looking items and make them finish it.

Instead, order one plate for the whole family to share.  If everyone is still hungry, you can feed them something more approachable from the menu later.

Let them pick the restaurant.

Make your kids a part of the process of choosing new foods to try.

Give them a list of restaurants that serve regional food.  Then, you get to pick what you actually order off the menu!

Be interested in their observations.

Kids, especially younger ones, love it when adults take an interest in their thoughts.

Ask them open-ended questions.  Instead of asking, “Do you like it?” try asking:

“What ingredients do you think are in there?”

“Is it salty or sweet?”

“Can you think of a dish at home that this reminds you of?”

Good luck, and don’t give up!

Encouraging children to try new foods in a new country.

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