New Research Shows You CAN Get Your Kids to Eat Vegetables
When my son was a toddler, I went to hear nationally recognized child development specialist and author Barbara Coloroso talk about positive discipline. Questions from the parents in the audience were wide-ranging, but I’ll never forget one mom saying that the only thing her child would eat was French fries and chicken McNuggets. I honestly don’t remember what Coloroso’s response was because I was too busy thinking, “Don’t you control what your 3-year-old eats?” I mean, truly, parents do have a certain amount of control. I understand not wanting to have a battle over food and the worry over a child who isn’t eating, but those chicken nuggets and French fries have to be coming from somewhere. I don’t think a toddler is driving herself through the drive-thru in her Barbie convertible.
Is there a middle ground? Can parents realistically provide a solid foundation for healthy eating or are we doomed to an endless struggle with the processed food industry?
According to a recent study by Richard Rosenkranz, associate professor of food, nutrition, dietetics and health at Kansas State University, there is hope. In fact, he found that pregnant moms can set the stage for kale- and Brussels sprouts-loving kids. Rosenkranz research found that women who ate more bitter polyphenolic foods, such as kale, when they were pregnant, had kids who were more receptive to these foods.
And don’t let a frown-y face fool you. Toddlers may make faces when tasting a new food, but if they swallow it, then Rosenkranz says to keep serving that food. Chances are, they’ll actually start liking it.
Parents, you’re not off the hook when it comes to getting kids to eat vegetables – you need to eat yours, too! Babies as young as 6 months take cues from parents. Your kids are watching what you do, including what you eat, so start eating the way you want your kids to eat.
As children get older, include them in shopping, picking vegetables and helping prepare food. They’ll be more likely to eat what they have had a hand in choosing, and this helps them learn to make healthy independent decisions as they grow.
And, with kids and foods, silliness counts. Rosenkranz found that when fresh vegetables were arranged into smiley faces or animals, kids were much more likely to imbibe. For teens, easy access to healthy foods will make them more likely to grab some grapes rather than gummy worms.
Rosenkranz also encourages parents to go for the long haul. Try offering foods many times. And if you’re on the drive-thru food track, you don’t have to stay there. Try some of these proven methods to begin a healthful lifestyle today.