Want your children to eat more vegetables? Then serve veggies first without other competing foods. That’s the recommendation from a study of 51 children at a daycare center. In the study, Penn State University researchers at different times offered the children meals with no carrots,
30 grams (about one ounce) of carrots, 60 grams or 90 grams as the first course of their meals. The children were given 10 minutes to eat their carrots before they were given the rest of their meal (pasta, broccoli, unsweetened applesauce and low-fat milk).
When the kids were given no carrots, they ate about 23 grams of their broccoli. When the kids were given 30 grams of carrots first, they ate around 35 grams of broccoli. Sixty grams of carrots as an appetizer resulted in 60 grams of broccoli consumption. Increasing the carrot serving to 90 grams increased the broccoli consumption only slightly, to 63 grams.
“The great thing about this study is the very clear and easy message for parents and caregivers that while you are preparing dinner, put some vegetables out for your children to snack on while they’re hungry/’ said Maureen Spill, a co-author. “Parents also need to set an example by eating vegetables while children are young and impressionable.”
Reprint with permission from Pediatrics for Parents, the newsletter for caring parents.