How to get your kid to like veggies? Study says start young, keep trying
Kids look at vegetables at a grocery store in this undated photo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Dietitians of Canada)
Published Tuesday, June 3, 2014 10:21AM EDT
Want to raise open-minded kids who don’t complain about their veggies? Introduce carrots and peas early in life and don’t give up after the first try, say British researchers.
And they should know: For their research, the team from the University of Leeds used perhaps one of the least popular and most uncommon foods in the plant kingdom on their mini test subjects: artichoke puree.
For the study, scientists fed the puree to 332 babies and children aged 6 to 38 months, who came from the U.K., France and Denmark.
Children were fed five to 10 servings of at least 100 grams of the puree, either in its basic form, sweetened with added sugar or mixed with vegetable oil.
Overall, younger children consumed more of the puree than older kids, notably kids under 24 months -- the age more commonly known as the terrible twos, when tots suddenly discover their own will and are more reluctant to try new things.
Most of the kids -- 40 per cent -- were classified as “learners,” kids who increased their intake over time.
“Plate-clearers” were defined as those who consumed more than 75 per cent of what was offered each time (21%). “Non-eaters” were those who ate less than 10 grams by the fifth helping (16%) and the rest were categorized as “others.”
Researchers found that that the fussiest group, the “non-eaters," tended to be older pre-school children.
Interestingly, researchers found that sweetening the puree didn’t make a difference in the amount that children ate.
The findings were published in PLoS One.
The moral of the study?
"If you want to encourage your children to eat vegetables, make sure you start early and often. Even if your child is fussy or does not like veggies, our study shows that 5-10 exposures will do the trick,” said lead researcher Marion Hetherington.
Other studies have also suggested offering kids more variety when it comes to vegetables, refraining from telling them their veggies are healthy and leading by example.