Here’s an idea that might help you get your kids to eat their veggies. Even though the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act is now in effect, putting one serving of fruits/veggies on those school lunch trays does not kids will eat them. Now a Cornell University study has identified a unique approach. Changing the names of these foods – so carrots become “x-ray vision carrots” – might just do the trick.
The work, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, examined 186 preschool children, aged four. On some lunch days the kids were given carrots, and on other days the same veggie but with a more intriguing name. The kids ate almost two times as much of the veggies, and kept on eating 50% more of the veggie even on days when they didn’t have the catchy names.
Giving these good for you foods fun names appears to make them more appealing, more fun to eat. And the influence of the names might linger.
A second trial at two more schools used broccoli and green beans, both known to be not all that popular with kids. When broccoli became “tiny tasty tree tops,” and green beans were dubbed “silly dilly green beans” things changed and consumption doubled. At the end of the research 5% of the kids, up from 2% before the study started, were actually asking for these veggies.
This certainly demonstrates the power of marketing. And similar results have been seen in us all too mature adults. Changing the name of a dish from Seafood Filet to the more descriptive Succulent Italian Seafood Filet caused sales to rise by 28%, ratings of taste to increase by 12%. Changing expectations made for a different experience according to lead researcher Brian Wansink, the author of the book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.
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Up Kids Intake Of Veggies Using Fun Names Continued…
The cool names are still only part of the efforts to get kids to eat more vegetables. Many parents simply start feeding a child a wide variety of veggies when he/she starts eating solid foods and while this often works for some, there are those kids who lose their taste for healthy veggies as they get older. Here are some other things you might try to encourage eating more vegetables in kids.
- Add fun noodle shapes to vegetable soup, kids are so busy spelling and searching they don’t notice they’ve eaten the veggies.
- Try getting veggies in with vegetable drinks over ice with a straw, cocktail umbrella or celery stalk.
- Offer raw veggies with ranch dressing for dipping.
- Speak to the artist in your child by encouraging them to make art from raw veggies. Then they can enjoy eating the art supplies.
- Make a veggie pizza using store bought crescent rolls that you cook, cool and then spread with cream cheese and top with raw veggies.
- Offer a salad with dinner along with a choice of dressings, and don’t forget the croutons and shredded cheese.
- Encourage kids to get involved in cooking the veggies, as this not only brings pride in the finished dish, and it prompts need to taste it.
- Hide veggies in other foods… orange mashed potatoes are a mix of carrots and potatoes that get mashed together. Cover broccoli with tomato sauce or cheese.
This research on getting young kids to enjoy veggies appears in the journal Preventive Medicine.
To your good health,