Study: How to Get Your Kids to Eat More Fruits and Veggies

by on December 4th, 2014
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As almost any parent can attest, getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables can be a struggle. One of my favorite tricks is to start every meal with a serving of fruit or vegetables before any other food appears on the table. This takes advantage of hungry kids who are more likely to eat those carrots if they don’t have any other choice yet and I am still (deliberately) dawdling with getting the pasta served.

Turns out that I’m on to something. A new report from Reuter’s Health confirms what many parents already know but don’t often use to their advantage – children will eat what is in front of them. If the primary portion on the plate is a main course, such as macaroni and cheese, the child will eat more of the main course and less of other sides, such as a fruit or vegetable.

Make less of the main course available and voila! The child will eat more fruits and vegetables.

Pennsylvania State University in University Park offered 17 preschool children the same lunch for a week – macaroni cheese, green beans, unsweetened applesauce, a whole grain roll and milk. Every day, the researchers varied the amount of macaroni and cheese, from less than ½ cup to more than 1 and ½ cups. When the kids had larger amounts of macaroni and cheese, they ate less of the side dishes. However, when there was less macaroni and cheese, the children ate more of the applesauce and green beans.

In other words, parents should use their children’s hunger to their advantage and put more fruits and veggies on their plate, reducing the size of the main portion at the same time. The kids will still eat the main course but will consume more of the other foods than they would if the main course was bigger.

So stock up on the fruits and veggies and get ready to cut back on the macaroni and cheese…but sssh, don’t tell your kids that they’re actually eating that healthy food!

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