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This article was reviewed by a team of experts, including Johane Filemon, MS, RDN, CLT. View full list of reviewers below.
Natalie had never seen a pineapple until her teacher cut one in class. It looked so unusual to Natalie. The fruit Natalie enjoyed was normally soft, the pineapple was hard and spiky. Natalie frowned and decided then and there that pineapples were “icky.”
When her teacher offered her a slice, she immediately refused.
Her teacher replied, “Oh? You don’t like pineapple? Have you ever tried it before? Just take a bite.”
“No! I don’t want to!” Natalie shouted as she began to tear up.
Maybe you know a picky eater like Natalie who refuses to try unfamiliar foods. We understand the struggle. That’s why we want to help you teach your child to eat pineapple. This article will share:
- The benefits of pineapple for kids
- How to serve pineapple to picky eaters
- How to talk about pineapple to help your child try it
- How to help your child understand what pineapple does in their body
- A food activity that will help your picky eater learn to be more comfortable with pineapple
The Benefits of Pineapples for Kids
There are many health benefits of eating pineapple. Pineapples are packed full of immune-strengthening antioxidants and vitamins such as vitamin C. Vitamin C helps our body fight off sickness.
Pineapples also contain a digestive enzyme called bromelain that assists in protein breakdown and digestion in the small intestine.
Pineapples also contain manganese which assists growth and helps maintain a healthy metabolism.
With these so many health benefits, it’s understandable why Natalie’s teacher wanted to teach the kids to eat pineapple.
How to Serve Pineapple to Picky Eaters
You can serve pineapples to kids in a variety of ways. Serving pineapple in a fruit platter is one easy way to present the new food while still giving kids other options. Pineapple may also be used as a topping over yogurt or on a pizza, in a salad with greens and vegetables, or on its own.
If your child is extremely hesitant, try using very small portions, or “micro portions.” Micro portions are meant to be less intimidating for extremely picky eaters, and they can also help reduce food waste.
Also, we do not encourage the use of pressure to get a kid to eat pineapple. Pressure may only serve to increase fear and discomfort. Pressure can be hard to recognize, so here are few examples of what pressure sounds like:
“If you don’t finish your plate, you are in big trouble!”
“If it’s too smelly, just hold your nose and give it a try.”
“Natalie, your friend is eating her food, you should be more like her.”
The best way to get your kids to eat pineapple is to avoid pressuring them to eat it.
How to Talk About Pineapple to Help Your Kid Try It
Picky eating is a behavior, a behavior of communication and expression. Behaviors can be changed or reinforced.
One thing you may have noticed is that your picky child may use negative words when talking about a new food. “Pineapples are icky!”
If your child only uses negative words to describe foods, you can encourage them to use more neutral words. Avoid using positive or negative language and avoid saying, “this food is good” or “that food is bad.” Use neutral words that describe characteristics of the food. Neutral language is extremely important because when your child only speaks negatively about a food, it often reinforces their picky eating behaviors.
Modeling is also important in the development of positive relationships with food. Modeling is the process in which you as the parent, guardian or caregiver of a child provide a real-life example of a behavior you want your child to mirror. In this case, that means using neutral language when speaking about foods.
Below are neutral words you can use to explain pineapple to a child:
- Bright yellow
- Tart (sometimes)
- Sweet (sometimes)
- Big smell
- Big taste
Natalie’s teacher could have introduced the kids to pineapple by saying,“Pineapples are very flavorful and bright!”
How to Help Your Child Understand What Pineapple Does in Their Body
Introducing new foods or changing a routine can be challenging for a child, especially a picky eater. It helps to understand different ways to talk about food to get kids excited to try new foods! Sharing age-appropriate information about food helps them understand why they should try it.
Children often have millions of questions about any and everything. It is easy to realize that they will also ask questions about the food you are serving.
Trying to explain what food does in their body is a great way to foster a healthy relationship with food long term. Here are a few different ways you may start a conversation about pineapple when you introduce it.
Age 0-3: Pineapple helps fight germs.
Age 3-5: Pineapple helps your body feel better after feeling sick.
Age 6-11: Pineapple, like oranges and grapefruit, are citrus fruits that have vitamin C. Vitamin C helps our bodies stay strong while it fights sickness/germs.
Age 12-18: Pineapples are high in vitamin C, which helps your body’s immune system fight sickness, like colds. Pineapples even help reduce swelling, which is helpful when you have a stuffy nose!
When introducing the pineapple to the children, Natalie’s teacher could have said, “Pineapples help fight germs and make you feel better faster when you are sick.”
Pineapple Food Play Activity
Picky eating in children can be a game of patience and repetition. A child may have to go back and forth between wanting to touch, see, or smell before they are willing to try a new food.
Allowing for a no-pressure approach like food play can allow a child to become less fearful of the foreign food. Food play can open them up to the idea of tasting the food somewhere down the line.
Here is one example of a food activity with pineapple.
If you need more food activity ideas broken down by age of child (0 to 10 years old) and stage of learning to like new foods, you may enjoy our food activities guide: Food Play Every Day: 101+ Food Activities for Kids!
You and your child can play games on a phone or tablet device that involve cooking or foods.
Pineapple Photo Shoot
- Pineapple, sliced, cubed or whole
- Camera, cell phone or tablet
- Extra decorations for fun pictures (googly eyes, for example)
- Place pineapple on a plate.
- Take cute pictures of the pineapple together with funny filters. Or, decorate the pineapple with your decorations and take pictures of the pineapple.
Note: If your child is open to it, have a pineapple nearby as a reference to give them an opportunity to see the whole pineapple. Ask your child to describe the whole pineapple and compare it to the sliced/cut pineapple that they are taking pictures of.
Thanks for being a part of our community that’s teaching kids to eat more foods!
About Kids Eat in Color
Kids Eat in Color gives parents the tools they need to teach their kids to eat veggies and try foods without a battle! From introducing new foods to a picky eater, to reducing meal-time stress, to taking off some of the burdens of meal planning, shopping, and cooking, we are here for parents.
Johane Filemon, MS, RDN, CLT
Alli Delozier, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Laura Petix, M.S., OTR/L
Erinn Jacobi, M.S., OTR/L
Stefanie Kain, B.S., M.Ed
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