Need help getting your kids to eat their vegetables ?

x-ray vision carrots on the menuGetting kids (and husbands) to eat their vegetables is frequently an uphill battle.

Biology doesn’t help, since although vegetables are nutrient dense, they don’t have too much “brain” appeal. Our brain is wired to seek out calorie dense foods. Foods loaded up with carbs or fats (or both), fit this bill, bitter broccoli, does not.

The broccoli wars

It pays to start early and it is imperative that you set an example, but this is often not enough.

Concerned Moms (and Dads) draw up battle plans which include

Name that food

Resturanteurs know, fancy descriptors make foods more attractive to adults, researchers wondered if the same approach could get the broccoli sliding down.

They tested out a few alternative descriptors of vegetable choices at a school cafeteria. 147 children, aged between 8-11 year olds from 5 different schools descended on a school lunchroom.

A carrot by another name

Carrots were on the menu on all three days, but on each occasion, they were presented to the children differently. The carrots were either

  • The “Food of the Day”,
  • “X-ray Vision carrots”
  • “Carrots”

The name seemed to make little difference to the amount of carrots that was labelled onto the plates. But, when the plates returned to the kitchen, there was a big difference in the amount of carrots that had been consumed.

The kids ate 66 % of the X-ray vision carrots, 32 % of the Food of the Day carrots and 35 % of the unnamed carrots.

That is a lot more carrots going down.

Not just a carrot thing

To prove it wasn’t just a fluke result, the team took the name game to two suburban schools, but this time applied the “sexy” name idea, to the green vegetables, a much tougher sell than carrots.

Broccoli morphed into “Power Punch Broccoli” and “Tiny Tasty Tree Tops” and green beans became “Silly Dilly Green Beans’’.

Both schools ate ordinary vegetables in the first month, but in the second month, children in one school got to eat “sexy greens”, while the menu remained unnamed in the second, control, school.

Vegetable purchases went up by 99 % in the school offering “sexy greens”, while in the school serving ordinary unnamed greens, vegetable sales actually declined by 16 %.

Give those vegetables star status

Load up your little one’s plate with extra special vegetables.

Packaging counts when it comes to vegetables.

Attractive Names Sustain Increased Vegetable Intake in Schools. Preventive Medicine (2012) 55(4): 330-332 Wansink, Brian, Just, David R., Payne, Collin R., & Klinger, Matthew.

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Further reading

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Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

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Did you learn something new or do you have a different perspective ? I’d love to hear from you so post me a comment below