Children of all ages have a reluctance to like vegetables which is a major problem for parents as well as the attempt to change the U.S. culture to accept healthier foods. Many researchers believe introducing the concepts of health and nutrition very early in life may be an effective approach. A study from Stanford University published in the journal Psychological Science supports the idea that young preschool children can understand these concepts when even applied to nutrition. They hypothesized that young children have a natural curiosity and want to understand how things work which this may apply also to food .
The researchers created five storybooks for preschool children aged 4 and 5 that emphasized key concepts about food and nutrition. These included the importance of variety, how digestion works, nutrient characteristics and how nutrients aid the body. They read these books to the children during snack time for three months. For a control, they did not read the books to other children during snack time.
Later, the children were asked questions about what they had learned from the books about food and nutrition to assess their grasp of the concepts presented. In the group of children who had the stories read to them, vegetable intake almost doubled during snack time after the intervention. Vegetable intake during snack time remained the same in the control groups.
The authors concluded that explaining to these children that their bodies need different kinds of healthy foods did have a significant impact on their acceptance of vegetables. Whether this approach can help children improve their intake of healthy foods at home or at mealtimes remains to be determined.
The following article is an excellent realistic guide from the trenches on dealing with kids who don’t want to eat vegetables.