Parents' Corner

Getting children to eat their vegetables might not be an endless battle if parents follow some research-based advice from a nutrition expert at Kansas State University.

 

Getting kids used to vegetables can start in the womb, said Richard Rosenkranz, associate professor of food, nutrition, dietetics and health.

 

Rosenkranz said research on pregnant rodents' eating habits and their offspring's taste preferences shows that children's tastes start being shaped while they are still in the womb. Studies also show that pregnant women who eat more foods with bitter polyphenolics, such as kale and Brussel sprouts, have children who are more receptive to them when they try them for the first time.

 

"During pregnancy, an embryo and then a fetus is obtaining information about the outside world," Rosenkranz said. "So, moms can set the stage for what their kids will want to eat before they're even born."

Infants can learn through repeated exposure and dietary variety. So Rosenkranz suggests focusing more on a child's willingness to consume a food rather than relying on the facial expressions they give when eating it. For example, some infants may frown at bitter vegetables, but if they still swallow the food, their desire toward the food can be increased over time by continuing to serve it to them.

 

Babies as young as 6 months can detect what eating behaviors are normal and abnormal, Rosenkranz said. They react when their parents eat foods they don't usually eat, and they take cues from parents as to what is and isn't ....

 

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Winning the war: How to persuade children to eat more veggies

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