Does you child turn her nose up at vegetables? It could be that she just hasn't been introduced to them properly. A new study has found that pairing foods kids don't like with those that they do could make the difference between a child who eats his vegetables and one who leaves them on the plate.
For years, parents have been covering veggies in everything from Ranch dip to cheese sauce to ketchup to get their kids to eat them up. And this study confirms that this trick is a winner. But what it also found was that parents probably don't need to rely on these veggie 'disguises' beyond a couple of tries and that using these food pairings might be a better way to help kids become healthy eaters down the road.
For the study, researchers interviewed 29 children between the ages of three and five years old to find out their feelings on 11 different vegetables. They found that — within this group of kids — cauliflower and Brussels sprouts were two veggies that most had not tried. Researchers split the kids into groups and over the period of one week, the served the kids either cauliflower or Brussels sprouts. The vegetables were cooked the same for all of the kids, but some of the kids were given the vegetables plain, while others were served the veggies with cream cheese and still others ate their veggies with a sweetened cream cheese.
After seven days, the children were then served the vegetables plain.
And here's where it gets kinda cool.
Not surprisingly, the kids who given the Brussels sprouts with cream cheese (either sweetened or unsweetened) said that they liked the vegetable much more than the kids who ate it plain. But what's surprising is that these same kids continued to say that they liked Brussels sprouts, even when they were served the vegetable plain. And they ate more of them then the kids who were given them plain to being with.
Researchers saw similar results with the cauliflower.
They also noted that while most experts advise giving kids a food at least 10 times before they can decide if they like it or not, the kids in this study were only served the food seven times. After that, they were much more likely to eat it — and even like it! — if the initial food pairing was appealing.
Bottom line: Don't be afraid to add a little Ranch dip or cheese to those veggies. It may help your kids become better veggie eaters down the road.