How to Get Your Child to Eat Veggies

From “Welcome to Your Child’s Brain“…

Some of these tips probably won’t help you if you already have a fussy eater who hates veggies but I’ve included them anyway just in case you’re planning on having another one, or if you’re a Mum-to-be…

  1. Eat veggies when you’re pregnant – because your baby is learning taste preferences by swallowing little mouthfuls of amniotic fluid flavoured by the foods that you consume.
  2. Involve your child in food preparation – yes, apparently it does work although I have yet to see it work for me with any real effect (unless we are making cakes and bikkies).
  3. Show that parents and siblings enjoy veggies – works with Hercules to a degree but not at all with Aristotle who clearly knows his own mind.
  4. Serve it a few times because repeat exposure helps to reduce negative reactions – again, it works with Hercules (if you can get him to taste it) but not really with Aristotle.
  5. Feed soy-based formula – apparently the slightly bitter taste of soy primes the tastebuds for receiving veggie flavours, although this is clearly not practical if you intend to breastfeed.
  6. Serve your veggies with a favourite food – according to the research, it needs to be served no more than nine seconds apart. Or you can just serve them mixed together. When Hercules was younger, Daddy would shave off the florets from the broccoli and use it to pepper his chicken. Hercules would eat it all – chicken and broccoli. Now Hercules enjoys his “baby trees”.
  7. Serve it with something sweet – apparently if you serve broccoli with sugar, your child will later rate broccoli alone as being more pleasant than a vegetable that was served alone from the start. So it looks like my nutrient cocktails really are the way to go…

G2 loves eating baby trees!  That's one down... Now we just need to get G1 into it too...

Don’t serve dessert right after a meal!

Now this was interesting… Serving a dessert as a reward for finishing dinner is a big no-no because it reduces your child’s preference for the food they ate during dinner. This is because the urge to consume foods that are high in calories is part of our survival instinct – our brains are geared towards it. Since the gut detects calorie content some time after the food has been consumed, by the time dessert is served, the food from dinner is still being processed in your child’s gut. This encourages the brain to develop a preference for the taste of dessert as a response to the food being processed in the gut.

If you are going to serve dessert after a meal, wait at least 30 minutes before you do so to avoid this association.

To use this association to your benefit, serving a spoonful of dessert right before your spoonful of veggies will help your child’s brain develop the preference for veggies. But here’s the trick, it needs to be no more than 9 seconds after the mouthful of dessert. Probably not so hard to do if you’re still feeding pureed food to your baby, but not so practical for older children…

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