Four to six years old is the perfect age for kids to take an active role in choosing what they want to eat; this is also the time when children are developing life long eating habits and patterns.
Four to six years old is the perfect age for kids to take an active role in choosing what they want to eat; this is also the time when children are developing life long eating habits and patterns. It’s no surprise and certainly not news – even though it frequently appears in the news – that kids (and most adults) are not consuming the daily recommended amount of vegetables. Dutch researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands studied the link between the amounts of vegetables eaten by children who were given a choice versus those who were not.
The researchers hypothesized, according to the self-determination theory, that stimulating children’s feelings of autonomy by offering a choice of vegetables may be a valuable strategy to increase their vegetable liking and consumption. Children were randomly selected to receive one of three vegetable dinner conditions: no choice, pre-meal choice, and at-meal choice. The meal was consumed in a restaurant with one parent present. Results demonstrated no significant differences between the three groups but did notice a difference in those children who were considered ‘high-reactant’ (or difficult) and not given a choice versus ‘low-reactant’ (or easy going). The latter ate nearly twice as many vegetables.
Overall, it was reported that children appreciated the ability to choose which veggies they wanted with their dinner before they ate, but statistically, this had no effect on quantity consumed. So, how do we get kids to eat more vegetables? As the Lempert Report has said before, and will repeat, there should be no reason to “hide the veggies.” Kids with no understanding of where their food comes from, and actually looks like before it is mashed, mushed and disguised as their favorite TV character, will have great difficulty eating whole fresh, brightly colored, and ‘foreign’ looking vegetables. We believe that giving kids a choice of vegetables is a great start, but allowing kids to participate in food preparation and meal planning is even better.
Creating Koodies, or kid-foodies, is what we have coined this phenomenon. Koodies are sure to bring us back to real, whole foods – knowing where they come from and what they truly taste like. Manufacturers and food product developers beware. Koodies are our future and are sure to reject long ingredient lists and artificial flavorings. They will soon demand great tasting natural uncomplicated foods!
If you and your kids haven’t signed up yet, check out the Koodies Social Network, a place for kids and their parents to share information, ideas, recipes and anything and everything about food!
The study was published in the December 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Here’s some food for thought. Why do kids happily chow down on bright yellow cheeses but run and hide from the naturally vibrant and colorful vegetables like beets and broccoli?