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

Scottish Daily Mail - - Front Page - 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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