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“It’s Taco Tuesday!” yells David.
Remembering the days he enjoyed taco night as a child, David rounds up his kids from their rooms. He picks up his toddler, Daphne, and swings her around with excitement.
Dinner is ready, the table is set and tacos are served. This is Daphne’s first taco night, and lately she has started becoming a bit of a picky eater. Wanting this night to be perfect, David took a tip he found on the Kids Eat in Color Instagram, and he served Daphne’s meal “deconstructed,” with all the components separated.
One last thing to finish the setup! His mother’s lime and radish salsa. Not spicy, just bright to make taco night perfect. David expected to hear angels singing as everything fell into place, but instead he heard… crying?
“No daddy!” screams Daphne. “No! Don’t want that! Only red ones!”
Trying his best to hold onto his Taco Tuesday fantasy, David begs his daughter to at least try one bite. “Yes, I know, but these are purple. Just give it a try, honey, I promise it tastes so good.”
“No! NO taco night!!” yells Daphne.
As her eyes water, David’s heart sinks as the feeling of defeat crushes him. He really wanted Daphne’s first Taco Tuesday to be one to remember–but it all went wrong over the color.
It’s overwhelming when you feel like you have tried everything to introduce new foods to your child with little to no success. Feeding picky eaters can not only be tricky but a long journey, which is why we are here to help you through these battles. So, here’s our guide to help you teach your child to eat radishes. You’ll learn:
- The benefits of radishes for kids
- How to serve radishes to picky eaters
- How to talk about radishes to help your child try them
- How to help your child understand what radishes do in their body
- A food activity that will help your picky eater learn to be more comfortable with radishes
The Benefits of Radishes for Kids
Radishes offer many health benefits for children, including providing hydration. Did you know that humans can get water not only from what they drink but also from the food they eat? Radishes just so happen to be packed with water–up to 95%!
Another great thing about this water-rich source is that it’s also a source of potassium and folate. Potassium has many functions. It helps promote a strong heart and muscle function for your little one. Folate is necessary for cell division, which aids in growth and healing. This means that folate is a vital vitamin to help keep your child’s body functioning.
How to Serve Radishes to Picky Eaters
Radishes are honestly pretty cool because you can do so many things with radishes! Serve them raw, pickled (on sandwiches and tacos–my favorite), and even cooked. When we get creative with how we serve radishes to our picky kids, we can actually increase the chances of them trying some. Here are some ideas for getting creative when serving radishes (and any new food) to kids.
Try serving deconstructed meals, a way of separating the main ingredients on a plate to remove anxiety associated with mixed foods. This offers a safer space for your child to determine what they want to eat.
Micro portions can also be a great way to introduce new foods to your child. Micro portions are small, rice-sized pieces of food. Small portions help with reducing anxiety and reducing food waste. Next time radishes are on the menu, you can serve a micro portion next to a deconstructed taco!
Finally, to encourage your child to try a radish, we recommend removing pressure from mealtimes.
Parents may unintentionally inflict pressure on their children in different ways. Sometimes parents may intend to be positive about a new food but, for the child, it can come off as aggressive or threatening. Here are some examples of what pressure can look like at the dinner table:
- “You haven’t even tried it yet, honey. Take just one bite. They are the same kind of radishes, I promise.”
- “It’s Taco Tuesday. Everyone loves Taco Tuesday. Just try it!”
- “This took so much work to put together. Please just give it a try.”
Let’s look back at Daphne’s situation. Something about the radishes triggered a feeling of anxiety. And David felt as though he did everything to guarantee Taco Tuesday went perfect–even the deconstructed meals! In the desperate need to save taco night, he applied pressure on Daphne and it backfired. Avoiding pressure can help your child learn to like a new food at their own pace.
How to Talk About Radishes to Help Your Child Try Them
When selective eaters encounter a food they don’t like or aren’t familiar with, it is common for them to use negative language to describe their discomfort. You have probably heard some of these greatest picky eater hits: “I won’t eat that, it smells like poop,” “I don’t want that, it’s too slimy,” and the classic, “I’m not hungry” (even when they haven’t touched a bite of dinner). No matter how much we love to hear these tunes, the negative language causes them to remain in a picky mindset. It really makes it harder for your child to learn to try a new food.
There’s good news, though! This gives you the chance to introduce new words to your child’s vocabulary. The best way to do this is by modeling. Modeling means that you set the example for your child of using neutral language (neither positive nor negative) to describe food.
Speaking either positively can make your picky eater think you are trying to trick them into eating a food, and speaking negatively will definitely discourage them from trying a new food. Neutral words help your child understand that they may learn to like a food in the future.
It’s OK if it takes some time to think of neutral words. Here are some words that describe radishes to get you started:
- White (inside)
- Green (inside)
Color was a big trigger for Daphne. In the future, David could take the opportunity to teach Daphne that radishes can come in many different colors. He might say, “Radishes can be red, Daphne, but they can also be green, purple and even yellow. Almost like a rainbow! Isn’t that so cool?”
How to Help Your Child Understand What Radishes Do in Their Body
Trying to convince a child like Daphne that she needs to eat a radish after she’s already refused won’t work. Instead, a great place to start would be to talk about what foods do in your child’s body.
We want to give age-appropriate information that a child can understand. We also want to help them make the connection that food does something in their body.
Is this going to magically make them try something new? Unlikely. This is one step in your child learning to try a new food.
Here are some messages for radishes. You can come up with your own as well!
Age 0-3: Radishes are crunchy. They keep your body moving.
Age 3-5: Radishes are crunchy and strong. They help your body grow strong also!
Age 6-11: Radishes have folate. Your body needs folate to help your body heal itself!
Age 12-18: You can get folate from a bunch of foods, including radishes. Did you know folate helps the human body grow and repair itself? This means the entire body needs it to keep itself going!
Radish Food Activity
Food activities can be a creative way to expose children to new foods. Exposure can desensitize the body’s sensory system. When a sense is new to the brain, the brain may automatically see it as a danger and trigger the fight or flight system. “Desensitize” means that your child’s body becomes more used to the food. Then when your child is with the food, it’s not so crunchy, so squishy, or so sour. When your child’s body and brain are used to the food, they can learn to taste it. They may learn to like it as well.
In David’s case, a food activity can be as simple as having Daphne help prepare the radishes and other ingredients for taco night.
A radish activity probably wouldn’t make Daphne try radishes the same night. But it can make her feel more comfortable with the food over time. It is good to remember that your picky eater may have to go through many stages of being with radishes including looking, smelling, tasting and touching before they give it a try. Start small with looking and smelling activities for more nervous or picky kids and work up to bigger activities like touching and tasting.
Here is a radish activity that parents can use to get their kids to eat radishes.
Age group: 2-5
- A clean flat surface
- Slice radishes into 1-inch-thick slices.
- Use your imagination and stack your radish pieces. You can create towers, rocket ships, houses and more!
Upgrade for ages 5-13: Cut radishes into ½-inch-thick slices and use toothpicks to add more dimension to structures.
For variations and more ideas, get Food Play Every Day: 101+ Food Activities for Kids!
Thanks for Being 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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