children's health

Begging, bribing and disguising, as a conscientious parent you will do almost anything to get your children to eat their greens

Your kids are not the only ones pushing aside the broccoli and rolling peas under the table. Parents around the world are struggling to get their children to eat vegetables.

In search of what can turn around picky eaters, researchers from the University of Eastern Finland studied young children’s consumption of vegetables, fruit and berries and the family’s home food environment, through a survey taken by parents.

They found that the best way to get children to eat greens is to set a positive example – but both mom and dad have to be on board.

How moms and dads influence what kids eat

In the study that included 114 kindergarten-aged children (three- to five-year-olds) and their parents, researchers found that to a certain degree, the consumption of vegetables is affected by different factors.

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A mother’s example was associated with eating raw and cooked vegetables as well as fruit and berries. A father’s example was strongly associated with eating cooked vegetables.

“This shows that teaching children to eat their greens is not something mothers should be doing alone. A positive example set by both parents is important, as is their encouragement of the child,” says researcher and nutritionist Kaisa Kähkönen from the University of Eastern Finland says.

Watching and learning at the dinner table

The best time to set this good example is at the family dinner table. It’s a daily opportunity to eat together and serve vegetables in a variety of ways.

The bottom line is to keep serving your picky eaters vegetables, but don’t skip your own plate either.

Children learn by example and since dietary habits are known to track from childhood to adulthood, both parents should be showing their children what healthy eating looks like.

Source: University of Eastern Finland 


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