As mothers everywhere might tell you, getting children to eat their fruits and vegetables can be a problem. They eat whatever they’re fed as infants but around the age of two when they’ve learned the power of no they want only the good stuff.
Food preferences are learned and by the time they’re in kindergarten vegetables have become a bad word for many children. Eating fruits aren’t as problematic since they’re sweet and children don’t argue as much about that.
Children dislike vegetable because they dislike the taste of bitterness, one online writer believes. That claim is based on studies, according to About.com. They tell us in 2005 researchers at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia found a gene, TAS2R38, which may be the reason children dislike vegetables. This gene is two ways, one is not an aversion to bitter and the other is. When both genes frown upon the taste of bitter, it’s probable that anything even hinting of bitterness will cause children to dislike vegetables.
From that study one can assume that eventually a child who squawks at vegetables will learn to eat them. This may not happen until they grow up get married and have children of their own. They then learn their children must eat vegetables, therefore they eat them as an example. That educational experiment has been long coming therefore there must be ways to get children to eat vegetables:
* Don’t make eating vegetables an issue. Mom and dad can put a small amount of the food on the child’s plate along with the other food choices and say nothing. Demanding them to eat their vegetables is a sure turn off. What they can do is to talk among themselves and in a round-about way, praise the vegetable. Dad can say, this is really good, did your mother teach you to fix asparagus, or some other equivalent remark. In time the curiosity of the child at this kind of banter will cause them to try that fabulous vegetable themselves.
* In school if they’re allowed to grow their own vegetables in an outside garden and learn of the value of vegetables, they will then look on them more kindly. If the teacher insists they inform the parents of the nutritive value of certain fruits and vegetables that will another reason they’ll learn to eat them. Children don’t like to be liars. They much prefer to do what they want others to do. And in school, if the teacher says something is good, it must be true. This is the beginning stage where mom and dad loses a little of their appeal. But the teacher is always right in the youngster’s eyes.
* At school have a vegetable party where the children can help prepare the vegetables they’ve grown. School cooks as well as teachers pack quite a punch with kids. Invite all of them to the party. One child will showcase carrots, another beans, another will bring broccoli, another lettuce or whatever. After the vegetables are eaten, fruits will be for dessert. Fruits will be the dessert and water and milk will be the only drinks. A taste test could follow and children will be asked to describe the vegetable or fruit they’ve eaten.
* In school have a field day and visit a nearby farm. Lunch will be served with only fruits, vegetables and milk and water on the menu. After an hour of romping around feeding carrots to the horses and lettuce to the rabbits, children will get another picture of the importance of vegetables.
Children will eat when they’re hungry. But how can they be hungry when they’ve filled up on snacks such as chips and cookies after school. Keep these temptations out of the reach of hungry youngsters that bound through the door home from school. Have grapes, miniature tomatoes that are sweet from having grown in adequate sunshine, apples, nuts and other tidbits for them to eat to satisfy their hunger until dinner time. Keep your chocolates under lock and key else they’ll climb the wall to find any that you as a parent think you’ve hidden.
Children are smarter than parents credit them to be. In order for parents to outsmart them, they must use tactics unknown to these budding geniuses. Expect them to take better care of themselves and they will. It’s only second nature for a child to let mother fuss and fret over them and at meal time, see that none of this happens. Let them know that mothers and fathers are too busy taking care of their own nutritional needs at meal time to be bothered with what they eat!
If they don’t care of it themselves, they will go hungry. It will be no dessert until the dinner is eaten. This will not be a dinner time proclamation; there won’t be anything else to eat within their reach.
Don’t reward your children for eating vegetables and fruits say psychologists: “Once a child is rewarded for eating particular foods (the logic goes), they are less likely to eat those foods willingly once the rewards are removed.”