Despite how frustrating and tiring it can be, don’t give up on encouraging your children to eat their vegetables, researchers say.
According to a new study, there are three effective tactics parents can employ to boost the intake of veggies of their kids.
Led by Dr. Emma Haycraft, senior lecturer in psychology at Loughborough, her team asked parents from 135 families to offer their children raw veggies they hated every day at snack time.
They also asked them to give their kids a ‘non-food’ incentive if they ate their veggies, as well as suggesting parents should eat with their toddlers.
The team found that making veggies available every day, and making it a part of meal or snack time, was the best way to encourage a child to eat a vegetable they had a previous distaste for. The process may take weeks, even months, for the child to come around, which is why Dr. Haycraft says, “Don’t give up! But don’t pressure them.”
“It might feel as if they’ll never accept vegetables, but tastes are always changing,” she continued.
“We know that children’s fussy eating peaks around two years of age. And it seems that younger children may be more amenable to change their behaviour before habits become too deeply ingrained.”
The other two methods – a reward-based deal, and eating with the kids – were the most effective in getting children to try and come around to veggies.
These findings are important for parents; getting kids to eat more nutritious foods is important to regulate their caloric intake, thereby reducing the risks of obesity.
“There are 40 million children under five, globally, who are overweight or obese,” noted Dr. Haycraft.
“In the U.K., children’s and adults’ vegetable consumption falls well below the recommended levels of five-per-day.”
All of the research team’s recommendations can be found online in the journal Current Nutrition Reports.