Your formative years are when your most important character traits, habits, and beliefs are developed. While there is no agreed-upon concrete age grouping where this takes place, the general consensus is that it happens early in life. Young children are very susceptible and often pick up habits and lifestyle choices from those around them. It’s important for those who are raising a child to instill positive habits and choices to help them grow into well-rounded adults.
One way to help positively influence your child during their formative years is by introducing them to foreign foods. Expanding their palate can have a variety of positive benefits that can be carried with them as they mature and grow older.
Stimulate Cultural Awareness and Curiosity
Exposing your child to foreign foods helps increase cultural awareness while stimulating their intellect and curiosity at a young age. Children have endless curiosity, and an interest in foreign food can lead to an increased curiosity, a greater thirst for knowledge and a sense of adventure and exploration. For example, if your child takes a liking to Japanese food, you could show them other aspects of Japanese culture. There is a strong chance they will want to consume all things Japanese; music, film, books, etc. This could also inspire them to travel or study abroad when they are older.
If you don’t know where to start introducing your child to foreign foods, many American favorites have exclusive foreign editions available. Let’s say your child is a big fan of Kit Kat candy bars. There are a variety of different Japanese Kit Kats available. These flavors are not available in traditional grocery stores or convenient shops, but can easily be ordered online and shipped internationally for a reasonable price. By introducing them to Japanese Kit Kats, they experience one of their favorite candies in a unique way. If your child is interested in branching out, it would be fun to try a Japanese snack subscription box that would include a wide variety of unique Japanese snacks that can be hard to come by in the U.S.
Exposing your child to foreign foods can also help kickstart healthier eating habits for your child. You can expose them to foreign foods that incorporate vegetables and fruits in new and interesting ways. Even though there has been significant progress on this front, school lunches leave a lot to be desired and can be unhealthy for children. By simply switching out a sandwich for an easy to make Japanese stir fry, for example, you’ll be able to introduce your child to new flavors while also incorporating fresh produce into their diet. This will help keep them pleasantly full and happy, setting them up for success in the classroom!
Reverse Your Child’s Picky Tendencies
Children are not born with picky food tendencies, they are acquired over time during the aforementioned formative years. A group of Canadian researchers concluded that “if children are to learn to prefer and select healthy foods, they need early, positive, repeated experiences with those foods.” Children learn best through sensory experiences, and taste is one of the most relatable senses for a child.
Foreign Foods Taste Great and are Fun to Cook!
If you ever get tired of cooking the same old dishes for dinner, this is the perfect way to mix it up! It’s exhilarating to experiment with cooking new dishes, and there are countless different foreign recipes available on the internet and in cookbooks for you to try. Locating an international grocery store is probably your best bet to finding specific ingredients, which you may not be able to find at your everyday supermarket. With your new expanded cookbook, your child will get the opportunity to try a wide variety of foreign foods.
If you live in a large metropolitan area with cultural neighborhoods like New York City’s Chinatown or Little Italy, there will undoubtedly be a great selection of restaurants to choose from. This will allow you to take your child out of the house and give them a cultural experience instead of eating at home or ordering from your favorite Chinese takeout spot.
Your child’s dietary habits and lifestyle choices are just another important component shaped during their formative years, as this will pay dividends in both the immediate and long-term future. Plant the seeds of a healthy lifestyle early by exposing them to foods of different cultures and regions!