If your child is not liking the vegetables you serve her (look here to see what I mean!), there is a way (and science now supports it) to kick it up a notch: offer a dip alongside the veggies! A new study from the Center For Childhood Obesity Research at Penn State University asked a group of preschoolers to do a taste test. Using dips that were low in calories and salt, in small amounts, Kerry Grens presents the results:
More kids said they liked the vegetable if it was paired with a flavored dip that they liked, compared to a vegetable without a dip or with a plain dip.
Only 31 percent of kids liked a vegetable alone, while 64 percent liked a vegetable when it was given with the flavored dip.
Also, only six percent of kids refused the vegetable and flavored dip, while 18 percent refused the vegetable without any dip.
In another experiment, the researchers gave 27 preschoolers celery or squash – two veggies that the kids typically didn’t like.
They found that kids ate about 15 grams of celery and six grams of squash. (For reference, a half cup of chopped celery or squash is a little more than 50 grams.)
When the vegetables were offered with dip, the kids ate more – about 25 grams of celery and about 15 grams of squash, the researchers report in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Grens serves up some wisdom from Yale University’s Marlene Schwartz:
Schwartz said the important thing at this age is not how much vegetables kids eat, but getting children to be willing to try vegetables and be open to liking them.
“If you can get preschoolers to see themselves as people who try a bunch of different vegetables and try them in different ways and like vegetables, then you can really reinforce that way of seeing themselves and that’s going to help you in the long run,” she said.
On the other hand, Schwartz said, if a child comes to identify himself as someone who doesn’t like vegetables, “then you’re really fighting an uphill battle.”
In that case, I wouldn’t fight it. You won’t win!