Finally! A way to get kids to eat their veggies!

05/30/2012 03:00:00 PM
Tom Karst

National Editor Tom KarstFinally, we have an answer (I said somewhat facetiously).

Turns out that a new book called "'Eat Your Vegetables' and Other Mistakes Parents Make: Redefining How to Raise Healthy Eaters" has the answer to the question: "How do you raise healthy eaters without constant mealtime struggles?"

From Newswire:

Registered dietitian Dr. Natalie Digate Muth, a pediatric resident at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA and mother of two, provides parents with a step-by-step plan to help kids embrace fruits, vegetables and other healthful foods without battles, bribes and coercion.

Among the topics the author covers is "learning the (reverse) psychology of getting kids to eat healthy."

Why did I suspect that the oft-tried "reverse psychology" has a prominent role in our author's ambitious strategy?

"Hey kids eat the Cheetos, please! Leave the baby carrots alone; they're mine!"

This topic - picky kids and parents' advice to "eat your vegetables" - is a time-honored struggle in American life. Isn't this table talk a common touchstone we want to pass on from generation to generation? Wouldn't  the world stop spinning if getting kids to eat veggies was easy?

I admire the author's bold attempt to scale the cliff of changing kids' eating behavior with nary a bribe, battle or coercion.

Our Fresh Talk contributor Gen X Mom Sarah Krause has talked about her strategy for nudging her kids toward fruits and vegetables. While Sarah's approach may be more artful and intuitive,  this book promises a step-by-step scientific approach. Check the book out at www.drnataliemuth.com/

But wait....this report says a team of researchers in Oregon "may have at last discovered how to get children to eat their vegetables."

The key, researchers say, is serving children a glass of water at every meal.  People associate healthy food with water, while they link sugary drinks with "junk food."

If vegetables go with water, and water is served, then pass the peas.

I have to say I like this simple approach. It is something that I could handle.


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Juanita Gaglio    
Huntington Beach, California  |  May, 30, 2012 at 08:08 PM

For a further in depth look at getting college students to eat healthy, take a look at Sept. 2010 issue of Psychology Today. Study with college students found that enticing them to eat healthy is in the wording. Key words, such as delicious, creamy, buttery and sweet are what motivates individuals to eat their veggies. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201009/i-shouldn-t-make-you-eat-healthy-food.

Ryan    
Heart of America  |  May, 31, 2012 at 04:17 PM

Or, just put your kids' broccoli inside something with Batman or The Hulk on it. Well, or at least so says this study reported by WSJ.com: http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2012/05/30/superhero-support-for-healthy-eating/ On a related note, the link to another article within the WSJ piece has me split. Some good stuff in there, but calling (or at least implying) sweet potatoes and strawberries as "bitter" seems like a misfire to me.

Andrea    
Arroyo Grande, California  |  June, 01, 2012 at 10:12 AM

If vegetables taste good, kids will eat them. If vegetables are fresh, they have more flavor. There are lots of ways to cook vegetables so kids will eat them, like....mixing cooked carrots with a bit of honey and butter, adding butter to freshly microwaved broccoli, or making a tasty but healthy dip for raw vegetables. First, parents have to be willing to make eating at home a priority and then take the time to make those meals.

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