Do you have difficulty getting your child to eat veggies? A recent study from Leeds University suggests that the earlier children are exposed to vegetables, the more willing they are to eat them and try new foods.
Led by Professor Marion Hetherington in the Institute of Psychological Sciences, a research team exposed 332 children from the UK, France and Denmark to artichoke puree. Each child, ranging from weaning age to 38 months, was given five to 10 servings of one of three versions:
- Basic artichoke puree
- Artichoke puree sweetened with sugar
- Artichoke puree with added energy (vegetable oil)
Researchers found that the type of puree given didn’t affect the amounts eaten over time and that younger subjects ate more of the puree than older subjects. This was also true for fussy eaters, who were able to consume more of a new vegetable each time they were exposed to it.
As your child grows older, he or she may become reluctant to try new foods. Try using the following tips to incorporate veggies into their diet:
- Variety is the spice of life! Let your child try many types of vegetables including squash, peas, sweet potatoes and more.
- Don’t give up if they don’t like it the first time. According to the study, children need up to five to 10 exposures for them to get used to it.
- Offer one new vegetable at a time to monitor for food allergies. If your child shows no symptoms, feel free to mix with other foods.
- Choose from in-season produce for peak flavor, freshness and nutrition.
- Do not introduce new vegetables when your child is too hungry or fussy. Likewise, pick a time when you do not feel rushed.
- Let them play with their food! Allowing your child to touch their food will help them become familiar with it.
Establishing healthy eating habits early will not only benefit your child now, but will help them maintain healthy eating habits later in life.