Who doesn’t struggle to teach children healthy eating in our culture of fake, ubiquitous foodstuff? Our approach is often twofold. On the one hand, we instruct kids on how fruits and vegetables make them big, strong, smart, and healthy. On the other, we strive to fill their plates with salads and vegetables, perhaps thinking the more, the better. Today I’m summarizing some recent research that suggests we’ve been going about this all wrong—myself included.
Here are the findings, in no particular order.
1. The best way to introduce new foods to a child (or adult, for that matter) is with no “message” whatsoever. Talking about a food’s health benefits affects the perception of its likely tastiness. It’s also a mistake to talk about the food’s tastiness, however. The kids consumed the most of a healthy food who were spared any messaging entirely.
2. “Repeated exposure is the simplest and most convenient method to enhance vegetable intake in children. . . However, mothers often give up after only 5 exposures yet current recommendations suggest at least 8–10 exposures.” (See study here.) So, we are just not being persistent enough. [Read more…]