The Next Food Network Star's "No Thank You Bite" Rule

next food network star melissa d'arabianDid you watch the most recent season of The Next Food Network Star? I was totally pulling for stay-at-home mom of four, Melissa d'Arabian. And guess what? She won! Her new show, Ten Dollar Dinners, debuted on The Food Network this weekend.

Melissa not only has great ideas about how to feed a family of four for under $10; she also has some creative ways to get her four daughters—all under the age of 5—to eat new foods. How does she do it? Here, she tells about her family's "No Thank You Bite" rule.


What is the "No Thank You Bite" rule?

The "No Thank You Bite" rule is the answer to a problem I was having with my kids: I wanted them to eat vegetables and try new things. At the same time, I wanted them to have their own opinions and know that those opinions were respected. This is a good compromise. My kids are welcome to say they don't care for something as long as they have one bite. If they don't like it, that's fine, and I move on. For me this fits our family because I wanted my kids to be willing to try things. That was more important to me than having them stomach a huge thing of broccoli. For now this solution works really well for us. Charlotte, my 3-year-old, is really finicky. She automatically eats one bite of everything on her plate.

But what do you do if your kids say "No Thank You" to everything?

We have the rule, and I also have a limit for how long the food is on the table. We sit down, and when dinner is over, it's over. I will let people know if they are dilly-dallying and not eating that: if they want to eat, now is the time...I say to them, "Does that mean you are not hungry anymore? Breakfast is a long time away."

If they get up from the table, their plate goes away. Once in a while I'll keep that plate in the fridge. And if they are hungry later on, then I'll give them the plate. But I don't always do this because I don't want to send message that they can eat dinner now or later.

I also will make sure that each meal has something healthy that I know they like—like brown rice. That way I feel better because I know they won't go hungry. I also have a backup item that I allow them to have later on. For example, if they come to me and say they are really hungry, I tell them that I could get them a piece of whole grain toast. It's healthy enough that I don't mind them having it and good enough that they aren't going to hate it. But it's still not a reward.

Stay tuned later this week for Part 2 of our interview with Melissa!

Do you have a "No Thank You Bite" rule in your house?

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