Since I have written “Don’t Yuck My Yum!”, I have gotten many comments from parents who tell me their kids love to say the phrase. I have also heard kids say it myself (over and over and over). For some reason they grab on to the slogan. My guess is because it is very relevant to them. I think they hear “yucks” often – or they know they are guilty of doing some “yucking” at one time or another. As with many statements however, this one can have different meanings – it can be used in different situations in reference to different things. I have a few little friends (not my own of course) who have decided to turn it around and say “don’t yum my yuck” (smart aren’t they?). And of course I have heard “don’t yuck my yum” in reference to unhealthy foods – which of course is not how I intended its use (but again, very clever). I like to think of the meaning as having many layers (like an onion). Using the slogan to teach kids how to stick up for the healthy foods they like or to teach the “yucker” about manners is a great start. However, if used as a rule in the background along with other nutrition messages, the many layers of “don’t yuck my yum” can lead to positive change or progress towards healthy eating and can be a fun experience for the whole family.
Teaching “Don’t Yuck My Yum” AND its layers
The first layer of teaching kids to use “don’t yuck my yum” is to emphasize that everyone has their own likes and dislikes and when someone declares their negative opinion it can, and very likely will, effect the other impressionable kids in the room (and possibly hurt feelings – speaking as the cook in our house). Older siblings can relate to this. Whenever I discuss this topic with kids, those older siblings talk about or at least agree that their younger sister or brother follows what they do. Once kids know the statement you can gradually add in the other layers – the important nutrition messages that will help them understand healthy eating and nutritious foods better. Here are a few of the other layers of my meaning for “don’t yuck my yum” that will help form healthy habits:
- Let kids know they can and will have their own opinions about food but they should also learn that trying a food many times is the best way to decide if they really like a food or not.
- Instead of having kids make a definitive decision about not liking a healthy food, encourage them to stay open to trying it again by adding YET onto the end. I use “No yum yet” but you could suggest they say “I don’t like it yet” or “maybe next time” or you could say something like “maybe next time we could try grilling it”.
- Teach kids about healthy foods using the MyPlate (www.chosemyplate.gov). The plate is a visual that is easy to explain and easy for kids to understand. They can start with learning the basics of putting foods into groups.
- Introduce healthy eating by encouraging a variety of foods from each food group, as well as those that come in all colors of the rainbow. Kids are very open to hearing about foods that will help them grow up to be healthy, happy and strong (emphasizing strong).
More layers and books to come! Happy “don’t yuck my yum”ming!