Want your kids to eat veg? Take them to the su­per­mar­ket

Daily Mail - - News - By Pat Ha­gan

AS any par­ent will ver­ify, coax­ing a child into eat­ing their greens is not a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence.

But re­searchers now claim to have found the se­cret to get­ting them to eat veg­eta­bles... and en­joy them.

It seems chil­dren who help choose the in­gre­di­ents to make veg­etable-based snacks are much more likely to eat them.

It is es­ti­mated only about 16 per cent of pre-school chil­dren in the UK eat the rec­om­mended daily al­lowance of five por­tions of fruits and veg­eta­bles.

In the study, sci­en­tists at the Basque Culinary Cen­tre in San Se­bas­tian, Spain, took a group of 86 chil­dren aged eight to ten and told half of them to help their par­ents shop for the in­gre­di­ents needed to make three dif­fer­ent veg­etable- based snacks or drinks.

They were home­made ap­ple and beet­root juice, courgette tortillas and spinach cook­ies.

The rest spent the af­ter­noon play­ing in a work­shop with no ex­po­sure to veg­eta­bles.

Both groups were sub­se­quently of­fered the chance to sam­ple ei­ther the veg­etable snacks or foods they were more fa­mil­iar with – choco­late, orange juice and chips.

The re­sults, pub­lished in the jour­nal Ap­petite, re­vealed 70 per cent of the chil­dren who helped choose the veg­eta­bles in the shop tried the snacks.

But only 20 per cent of those who did not help with the shop­ping opted for the healthy snacks. The shop­ping group were also more likely to say they en­joyed them.

re­searchers said giv­ing chil­dren a big­ger role in the shop­ping process could be a way for par­ents to bol­ster healthy food in­take. They said: ‘It has pre­vi­ously been shown that in­volv­ing chil­dren in cook­ing can in­crease their will­ing­ness to taste novel foods and di­rect their food choices to­wards veg­eta­bles.

‘ Th­ese re­sults show the im­por­tance of in­volv­ing young­sters in the dif­fer­ent steps of meal prepa­ra­tion.’

ex­perts have long be­lieved the key to up­ping their healthy in­take is get­ting ‘picky’ young­sters to taste dif­fer­ent foods.

One re­cent study found let­ting in­fants play with their foods, of­ten frowned on by par­ents, im­proves the chances of them eat­ing greens.

And an­other re­vealed young­sters are much more ac­cept­ing of veg­eta­bles if their moth­ers eat lots of them when they are breast­feed­ing, as ex­po­sure to veg­etable flavours in breast milk gets them used to the taste when they later try solids.

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