Benefits of introducing children to culturally diverse foods

April 3, 2024

At MindChamps, we embrace and celebrate all the different cultures and backgrounds that make up our MindChamps families. And as parents, we strive to provide our children with a deep acceptance, understanding and a rich tapestry of experiences based on cultural diversity. One delightful and engaging way to achieve this is through the exploration of international cuisines. Embracing different cultures through food not only satisfies taste buds but also serves as an educational and enriching experience for children.

Food is an integral part of all cultures. It connects us to our origins like family and country, to our beliefs and experiences, and to our unique cultural customs and traditions.

When we celebrate and enjoy culturally diverse foods, this helps to foster connections, inclusion and a sense of belonging, while shaping positive experiences with food for children that influence their long-term food preferences and unique cultural identities.

How do children benefit from exposure to culturally diverse foods? 

  • Provides an opportunity for learning, from food origins, to geography, ethnicities, religions and traditions. Exposing children to foods from many cultures helps to develop their understanding of the world around them.
  • Fosters cultural awareness by providing opportunities for children to learn about food customs, traditions, beliefs and values connected to foods while enjoying these.
  • Contributes to healthy eating habits and positive associations with foods from exposure to a wide variety of ingredients, flavors and tastes, which help shape a child’s food preferences, while contributing to greater food acceptance and prevention of fussy eating.
  • Enhances culinary skills and independence with food preparation and interest in food, contributing to food acceptance and life-long healthy eating behaviors.
  • Encourages family social connection. Trying new foods together becomes a bonding experience for families, creating opportunities for shared adventures, discussions, and celebrations centered around diverse culinary traditions.

How to start introducing your children to culturally diverse foods

Children are never too young to be introduced to food from a variety of cultures. The more foods and cuisines they try, and food traditions and experiences they are exposed to, the greater their acceptance and appreciation of a wider range of foods will be. Try the suggestions below to add more cultural diversity to your child’s nutritional intake:

  • Explore Together: Look for ideas and inspiration with your child. Browse through food and travel magazines, invest in a cuisine-themed recipe book, or enjoy a food documentary together. Make the expiration a joint adventure and let your child help you choose a new dish to try.
  • Make Diversity the Norm: Broaden your culinary horizons by regularly including a variety of dishes from different cultures in your weekly meals. If Mexican nachos are a staple, switch it up with another Mexican delight like tacos. Experiment with recipes, try an Asian style marinade the next time you are cooking steak. Make it fun for the whole family by choosing a cuisine themed night and try a recipe you’ve never made before, like rolling your own sushi.
  • Share a Meal with Others: Connect with family and friends from diverse backgrounds and share a meal together. Whether at home, a restaurant, or during celebrations and festivals, communal dining experiences foster cultural appreciation and understanding in children, as well as enjoyment and lead to positive associations with a wider variety of foods.
  • Immersive Experiences: Step outside the comfort of your kitchen and explore diverse food scenes. From restaurants to night markets, there are countless opportunities to try something new in a fun and exciting way. These experiences help children engage with different cultures, customs, and tastes and grow their appreciation for cultural diversity.
  • Storytelling and Tradition: A fantastic way to teach your children about culturally diverse foods through sharing stories, experiences and traditions. Even at a young age, kids can appreciate the background, meaning, and significance of various dishes and the customs behind these. Whether it’s by going to a friend’s house for dinner and exposing themselves to different foods or sharing traditional foods for a religious or cultural event, exposing children to food traditions creates lasting memories and positive associations with foods.
  • Get Hands-On: Encourage your child to immerse themselves in the experience by involving them in the cooking process. From selecting ingredients to serving at the table, hands-on participation fosters a sense of ownership and enthusiasm for trying new cultural foods.

Remember, the key is to make the exploration of culturally diverse foods a joyous and shared experience, creating a foundation for a lifetime of appreciation for the rich tapestry of global cuisines.

Check out our MindChamps culturally diverse foods recipes to try cooking at home here:

Beef San Choy Bow      

MindChamps Global Chief Nutrition Officer Mandy Sacher is Australia’s leading Paediatric Nutritionist, best-selling Author, child nutrition expert, blogger, and mother of two! She is also known for co-developing MEND (Mind Exercise Nutrition Do It!), the world’s largest and most researched childhood obesity prevention and treatment program based in the UK that was developed with over ten years of research. 

Mandy and her Nutrition Team believe in the well-being of all our MindChamps children and that their nutritional needs should be fulfilled in our centres. Mandy’s philosophy is simple – teach children’s taste buds to enjoy nourishing, nutritionally beneficial foods as early as possible to ensure optimal development and establishment of lifelong healthy eating behaviours. Bridging the gaps in food and nutrition, this first-of-its-kind partnership is our commitment to creating and elevating a positive and lasting impact on childhood nutrition on a global level.