“Hold the rabbit food, please.” This became somewhat of my brother’s mantra at age 9. Anytime a salad was offered, vegetables were dinner’s side, or even if he was asked if he would like lettuce and tomatoes on his burger, he was sure to let it be known that this “rabbit food” was not welcome on his plate. I have observed time and again that my parents were by no means alone in dealing with this health-food-related stubbornness, and I’m sure that if you are a guardian of a child you have experienced a similar dilemma.
Most parents and guardians experience this same issue and most are still asking, “How do I get my kid to eat healthy foods?” An article published by the Journal Law, Medicine, & Ethics explores this question, and suggests several solutions to instilling healthy eating habits from a young age. Here is a summary of their findings:
- Introduce new foods several times. This study found that food needs to be “offered to preschool-aged children ten to sixteen times before acceptance occurs.” The more a child sees a new food, the less intimidating it will become.
- Force feeding doesn’t work in the long run. It was recorded in this article that children that were encouraged to taste food at introductions became more accepting of these foods later on, while children that were forced to eat certain foods grew stronger in their contempt for that food as they grew older.
- Set the example! This was referred to in the article as “parent modeling.” It showed a correlation between young children seeing their parents eat certain foods and the kids themselves consuming those foods.
So there is no ‘easy’ fix to the problem of getting kids to eat healthy, but it can all start with you! Introduce them to new foods often and you might be surprised with what they eat as they get older. A healthy lifestyle can be instilled at a young age, and the parents and guardians of the world can help start that flame. If you would like for your kids to get even closer to healthy foods, look at the sneak peek on this newsletter to see how you can join us at the farm to learn about how healthy food options are made.
REFERENCE: Savage, Jennifer S., Jennifer Orlet Fisher, & Leann L. Birch. Parental Influence on Eating Behavior: Conception to Adolescence. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics. (2007) Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2531152/