Offer vegetables early, often, to toddlers and healthy eating becomes a habit


Broccoli is still my favorite – steamed then sauteed in olive oil and garlic

Children can learn to eat new vegetables if they are introduced regularly before the age of two, suggests a University of Leeds study.

Even fussy eaters can be encouraged to eat more greens if they are offered them five to 10 times, it found.

The research team gave artichoke puree to 332 children aged between four and 38 months from the UK, France and Denmark…One in five cleared their plates while 40% learned to like artichoke.

The study also dispelled the popular myth that vegetable tastes need to be masked in order for children to eat them…During the study, each child was given between five and 10 servings of at least 100g of artichoke puree…The puree was either served straight, or sweetened with added sugar, or vegetable oil was mixed into the puree to add energy.

The researchers found there was little difference in the amount eaten over time between those who were fed the basic puree and those who had the sweetened one, suggesting that making vegetables sweeter does not encourage children to eat more…

Overall, they did find that younger children ate more artichoke than older children in the study…Prof Marion Hetherington, study author from the Institute of Psychological Sciences at Leeds, said this was because children become picky and wary at a certain age.

“If they are under two they will eat new vegetables because they tend to be willing and open to new experiences…After 24 months, children become reluctant to try new things and start to reject foods – even those they previously liked…”

Prof Hetherington said her research, which is published in the journal PLOS ONE and funded by the EU, offered some valuable guidance to parents who want to encourage healthy diets in their children.

“If you want to encourage your children to eat vegetables, make sure you start early and often…Even if your child is fussy or does not like veggies, our study shows that five to 10 exposures will do the trick.”

There’s part of the skill. Parents have to know better before they can teach their children to eat better, healthier diets. Cripes, just reading this reminds me of what my mom did. She tried my sister and me on a range of green veggies and – in addition to traditional Italian salads – she simply let us choose which of the several veg she offered during those earliest years – as long as we chose one or more to be our own.

It meant she always was left with preparing twice as many choices for a meal – because damned if my sister and I would choose the same thing. We wouldn’t even pick the same ice cream for a treat walking home from our Friday night treat at the neighborhood movie house.

2 thoughts on “Offer vegetables early, often, to toddlers and healthy eating becomes a habit

  1. angrymanspeaks says:

    I wanna’ Testify!
    My parents had a rule; which rule I also kept for my daughters.
    Whatever was prepared for dinner; I was required to try it. If I didn’t like it; I could spit it out and not eat it but I had to TRY it.
    As a result, I have a family of omnivorous people who will try most things offered to them.
    The children do still go through all the normal phases like becoming finicky etc.
    In the end; their childhood rule comes back to them as adults and they eat a variety of foods and are more likely to choose healthier foods.

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