Reading yet more articles on the psychology of eating…
How do we learn to like certain foods?
Well, we learn when it makes us feel good (we feel full, the sweet taste is pleasant), because other people do so (we model behavior of others, eat what our culture things is appropriate), and because it’s something we’ve eaten many times (we’re exposed to a certain food since childhood).
Food neophobia is the fear of new foods in kids (starts ~ age 2). It’s an important trait since it serves a protective function (you can get poisoned by eating unknown foods), but at this time in history with diverse food environment it might limit kids’ diet for the worst.
Learning through exposure (repeated tasting) is a way to make young children eat food that they don’t seem to like. [Between 50-60% of variance in preference for foods in 4-year olds is explained by its sweetness and degree of familiarity!]
For a 2 year old, ~10 attempts might be necessary to make them like a new food (usually vegetable 🙂 It’s important to space these attempts and be persistent (most parents just give up after trying to give one food several times). So e.g. you can give a red pepper in small portions daily over the course of the week and eventually your kid will like it!
The number of attempts goes up with age ( 4-year old- ~15 attempts; 10-year old- up to twenty exposures to the food may be necessary).
You want your kid to enjoy vegetables later in life- start them early by giving it to them at a young age and don’t give up 😀