The struggle to get kids to eat their veggies is real! For most of us, it’s a matter of trying to find creative ways to sneak healthy foods into our children’s diets, as well as a constant worry about the kind of food choices they will make when we aren’t around. Brussels sprouts… spinach… broccoli? That probably sounds like a list of things you will NEVER get your kids to eat! However, a new study suggests getting kids to eat their vegetables may not be so impossible after all.
Researchers at Texas A & M University found a fascinating pattern when evaluating food consumption in elementary schools. It seems that of 8,500 plates that were analyzed for food waste, the largest factor in determining what was passed over was what had originally accompanied the discarded food.
It turns out, when less popular items, like green beans and carrots, are paired with show-stealers, like cheeseburgers and pizza, kiddos will usually fill up on their favorites and toss the rest. However, when paired with entrees that rank lower on their list of preferred foods, they eat more of their side dishes. Similarly, when side dishes were less nutritious items, like starchy foods, kids were likely to choose their tater tots and French fries over their entrees. Finally, the study notes the way in which some schools have found success in getting kids to eat more veggies by serving them on their own, taking away the option of choosing less nutritious food items.
Taking into consideration a 2014 Center for Disease Control and Prevention report that 9 out of 10 children aren’t getting enough vegetables, it seems that restructuring components of a meal could be a pretty useful and important tool. While this is something you can try at home, that doesn’t solve the issue of what your kids are eating at school. What can you do?
L.D. and her eleven-year-old lab, Eleanor Rigby Fitzgerald, moved from Seattle to Grand Rapids earlier this year, and are currently enjoying exploring their new city! She likes books, music, movies, running, and being outdoors as much as possible.