Getting Kids to Eat Vegetables and Healthy Food
My Child Hates Vegetables. What Can I Do?
Synopsis: Guidelines and strategies to help children eat their fruit vegetables and other healthy foods. When taste buds are used to pizza and chicken fingers, of course the subtle flavors of carrots or broccoli aren't going to measure up. But with time and persistence, kids can not only learn to eat them, but actually enjoy them and prefer them over the old foods. In many ways learning not only to tolerate but actually crave and enjoy fruits and vegetables is a gradual, learned process.
I remember when I was a kid that I hated green beans and foods. My parents would make me sit there for hours until I finished my serving, and they tried lots of creative ideas like adding almonds, seasonings, honey, etc. The truth was, I just didn't like them, but I had to eat them anyway. And now, as an adult, I LOVE greens and can't understand why I didn't used to think they were so great. I also now appreciate why my parents were so insistent that I eat my veggies.
Why is Childhood Nutrition Important?
As a naturopathic doctor, I have many parents asking about nutrition information for their children to promote holistic healing and overall wellness. Many kids are fussy or picky eaters and don't like to eat fruits and vegetables. And many adults don't either. In many ways learning not only to tolerate but actually crave and enjoy fruits and vegetables is a gradual, learned process. If you didn't learn to like them early on, and if you are never challenged to try new foods, you will never like vegetables.
When taste buds are used to pizza and chicken fingers, of course the subtle flavors of carrots or broccoli aren't going to measure up. But with time and persistence, kids can not only learn to eat them, but actually enjoy them and prefer them over the old foods.
Color Chart of Healthy Fruits and Vegetables
Guidelines to Help Kids Eat Their Vegetables
- Start early.
The best and easiest way to teach a kid to like their fruits and veggies is from a very early age. Offer toddlers lots of different types of foods, especially colorful fruits and vegetables. Studies show that new foods are often more likely accepted at age two to four than at four to eight. It's a lot easier to teach them to like healthy foods when they are really young than to wait until they are older.
- Your kids are watching you.
If you don't like vegetables and never eat them, chances are your kids won't like them either. Young kids want to emulate their parents, and these fresh foods are important for all of us, so set a good example by trying new foods yourself.
- Don't give up.
Multiple studies have shown that for kids and adults alike, you may have to be introduced to a new food 5, 10, 15 times before you like it. If the first time you serve spinach it is rejected, then simply serve it again. And again. And again. Eventually your child will be curious to try it, and may find they actually like it.
- Remember who is in charge.
In the end, you are the parent and it is up to you to teach your children healthy habits. Be firm with the "picky eaters" in your family. They may not like every vegetable you serve them, and that's okay; but don't allow them to get away with never trying or eating anything new.
- Vegetables do not have to be bland.
So often when I talk to people about not liking vegetables, I find out that they are simply cooking them with no seasoning. Presented in that fashion, the French fries and grilled cheese on the plate will seem much more appealing. Especially for new vegetable eaters, prepare your meals full of flavor-all sorts of spices, culinary herbs, sauces, and recipes can take a boring chunk of cauliflower and turn it into a fantastic side dish or even entrée.
How to Get Your Children to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Effect of longer family meals on children's fruit and vegetable intake: A randomized clinical trial. A study by Max Planck Institute for Human Development examines influence of longer family meals on children's eating behavior and is published in the U.S. journal JAMA Network Open.
Their experiment shows that children will eat significantly more fruits and vegetables if they on average stay at the table for only ten minutes more - 30 minutes in total. On average, they ate about 100 grams more fruits and vegetables. This represents about one of the five recommended daily portions of fruits and vegetables and is as much as a small apple or a small bell pepper.
"This outcome has practical importance for public health because one additional daily portion of fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of cardiometabolic disease by 6 to 7 percent," explains Jutta Mata, professor of health psychology at the University of Mannheim. "For such an effect, a sufficient quantity of fruits and vegetables must be available on the table - bite-sized pieces are best", the health psychologist adds.
50 pairs of parents and 50 children participated in the study. The average age of children in the study was 8 years and the average age of parents was 43 years. An equal number of boys and girls participated. The participants were served a typical German dinner with sliced bread, cold cuts, and cheese, as well as fruits and vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces.
"The duration of the meal is one of the central components of a family meal which parents can vary to improve the diet of their children. We had already found hints of this relation in a meta-analysis on studies looking at the qualitative components of healthy family meals. In this new experimental study, we were able to prove a formerly only correlative relationship," says Ralph Hertwig, Director at the Center for Adaptive Rationality of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.
The study also shows that longer family meals did not lead to the children eating more bread or cold cuts; they also did not eat more dessert. Researchers assume that the bite-sized pieces of fruits and vegetables were easier to eat and thus more enticing.
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Cite This Page (APA): Disabled World. (2009, February 22). Getting Kids to Eat Vegetables and Healthy Food. Disabled World. Retrieved December 1, 2023 from www.disabled-world.com/fitness/nutrition/kids-healthy-food.php
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