The Edible Alphabet is my latest project that I’m so pleased to share.
Designed for children who need to expand their food preferences, The Edible Alphabet is a way to start the conversation about healthy foods and nutrition in a way that is fun and has no pressure.
Join me on a journey of foods from A-Z.
We will have lots of fun challenges along the way!
Today we are talking the A-Z of food language!
Food exposure is great for young children to normalise healthy foods. This means more than just plonking a new food on their plate at dinner time. It’s reading cook books together, browsing catalogues, touching foods at the shops, and an often overlooked but very important aspect of food exposure is talking about food! Think about how you talk about food with your baby or toddler.. I bet you use words like Yummy, and make sounds like mmm mmm… But don’t even tell them what they are eating! Here comes the aeroplane is an old school way of encouraging bubs to open up, but what if thats stopped working? What if simply describing what you are serving them made a difference?
What would you respond better to?
“Today we are having risotto with baked pumpkin and cheese.. Remember the pumpkin you helped me buy, and the cheese we just grated? It’s all mixed in here together and will taste so delicious. It’s warm, but not so hot we need to blow on it. Have a tiny taste to start with and then we can eat it all up”
Mum sits down with a random bowl in front of me, puts some in a spoon and says “Open up it’s lunch time”.
Don’t underestimate the intelligence of your baby/toddler or child. Speaking to them about food will spark their interest and get them more involved.
Therefore, the vocabulary of food will make a difference for you and your child, so they can learn ways to discuss it. They will be able to articulate what it is about the food that they like or don’t like.
You know the story, you’ve served them a meal up one day and they ate it all, and you gave it to them again the next day, and they refused it! Perhaps talking about the meal more, you may get to the bottom of why.
Using words to involve the senses and describe foods will help you work out if your child has sensory aversions, or what their preferences are. Instead of hearing “I don’t like it, it’s gross”, you might get more information out of them like “Yesterday it was crunchy and today it’s soggy” or “It’s too hot”. This will enable you to have far less stress at meal times!
The Edible Alphabet’s A-Z of descriptive are:
Acidic, astringent, aromatic, briny, bitter, bland, burnt, bubbly, buttery, bittersweet, crunchy, creamy, chocolatey, crisp, cold, crusty, cooling, damp, dry, earthy, fizzy, flat, fiery, fresh, fruity, greasy, grainy, herby, hot, honeyed, hard, icey, juicy, limp, mild, mellow, nutty, oily, peppery, pungent, ripe, rancid, rotten, rich, robust, salty, soggy, stale, sticky, soft, slimy, spicy, sour, sweet, smokey, sharp, tart, tangy, umami, vinegary, warm, woody, yeasty, yum and zesty.
So next time you serve food to the family, instead of asking who likes it and is it yummy, perhaps ask what does it feel like in their mouth, what is the flavour, what does it smell like..
Warning, you may get blank stares, no answers or negativity UNTIL they learn the new language of food!! As a parent you need to lead by example and talk about it using lots of new descriptive words.
Let me know how this strategy impacts the eating behaviours in your house!