Does the One-Bite Rule Work?

by KristenY on November 7, 2013 · 2 comments

Before I dive into the topic of today’s post, I want to take a moment to introduce myself. I’m Kristen Yarker and it’s nice to meet you.

This summer, I returned home to Victoria after living in Vancouver for 14 years. It’s great to be back on the Island.

I’ve been a dietitian for 10 years (whenever I say that I can’t believe that the time has gone so fast). Between 2006-2008 I worked at the Ministry of Health (well, back then it was called The Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport) where I was responsible for the maternal nutrition and early child nutrition portfolios. I worked behind the scenes in the development of many of the resources still used today by health professionals and parents. For example, I designed the page where you record your child’s growth in their Health Passport (a.k.a. immunization passport, or immunization booklet).

In 2008, I decided to leave government and I started my business, Vitamin K Nutrition Consulting, so that I could offer my support more directly to families so that parents can be confident knowing that they’re giving their kids good nutrition today… and instilling a life-long love of healthy eating.

I’m going to go ahead and answer two questions that I’m asked all the time because you may be wondering it yourself.

  1. Am I selling vitamins for kids? I don’t sell vitamins. The name of my business is me being a bit cheeky. I’m referring to me—”K” for Kristen. As in “Give your family a dose of Vitamin Kristen”.  What can I say, I’m known for my groan-worthy sense of humour and my loud laugh!
  2. How many kids do I have? You may be surprised to learn that the answer is none. I had an adoption that didn’t go through. Well, to be more specific, I had a husband who got cold feet one year into the adoption process. To make a long story short, he’s now my ex-husband. And, instead of starting the adoption process all over again, I now share my contribution to raising kids by supporting you.

Each month I’ll be sharing posts answering real questions that I receive from real parents. And, I’d love to hear from you! Enter a question that you’d like me to address in the comment section below. Or, if you’re feeling shy, email me directly at Kristen(at)

Does the One-Bite Rule Work?

Many families use the one-bite rule at mealtimes. What’s the one-bite rule? It’s when there is a family rule that kids need to try one bite of every food on their plate.

I get a lot of people asking me whether or not it’s a good strategy. The answer is: it depends.

What does it depend on? Two factors, one of which is outside of your control, and one of which you can control. The factors are:

  1. Your child’s temperament
  2. Whether you have an environment where it’s okay to not like a food

Your Child’s Temperament

Temperament is the term used to describe the inherent way that a child responds emotionally and behaviourally to challenges or new situations. Some children are more outgoing, some more reserved. Some are more adventurous, while some like to sit back and observe before taking action. All of these temperaments are normal—but they do influence how your child approaches eating.

The one-bite rule works well for kids who are more adventurous because they’re more comfortable jumping into new situations. For reserved kids, forcing them to take action before they’re ready just causes them to dig their heels in further and become more resistant to trying new foods. Most of the time when parents hire me to work with their family, their kids have a more reserved temperament. We remove the one-bite rule, and the child is allowed to proceed at his own pace. Once he trusts that he truly is in control, he’ll try new foods.

Whether You Have An Environment Where it’s Okay Not Like a Food

It’s so easy to do. You’ve searched the internet and cookbooks to figure out what new recipe your family will enjoy, grocery shopped, and prepared the dish. So, when she tries her one bite, out you blurt “It’s good right?” or perhaps you say “See, it’s not so bad. Try another bite”.  Because you’ve put so much effort and love into the dish, you want your family to enjoy it. The unfortunate side effect is that this pressure makes your little one less likely to try something. Because now she not only has to try it–she has to like it too.

The Bottom Line: Different rules work for different families. If you choose to have the one-bite rule, make sure that it works with your children’s temperaments. And, it truly needs to be okay for your child to try a food and not like it.

Do you have the one-bite rule in your house? Does it work for your kids? Please share your comment below.

Known as The Dietitian who Transforms Picky Eaters into Food-Confident Kids, Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD, through her business Vitamin K Nutrition Consulting, answers the question “How do I get my kids to try new foods?”. Get your (free) copy of 101 Healthy Snack Ideas (that even picky toddlers and preschoolers will eat) at:

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

OnceHarmony November 11, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Thank heavens for you and this article. We have a reserved child and the one bite rule has never worked for us. It seems to work for so many we know and because it works for so many we know they all think it should work for us too. I’m so happy to read this and know that what we are doing works for us. She can try or not try something. It is up to her. Thank you for this. You have helped more than you will ever know. 🙂

Kristen Yarker November 12, 2013 at 11:16 am

So glad that you found this article useful. You absolutely aren’t alone. Most of the families whom I’ve worked with have kids who are more reserved temperaments. In fact, you’re not even the only parent who let me know that you found this post useful. A shy-ish parent sent me an email saying something similar!

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