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As many parents know, and research shows, US kids are not getting enough vegetables into their diets. Although there are many ways to hide greens into kids’ diets, experts suggest to keep them in plain view on the plate.
According to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 93% of US children ages 1 to 18 do not meet current recommendations for vegetable intake. However, blending spinach into your child’s favorite strawberry shake may seem a tempting way for them to “like” spinach, the best way to offer vegetables is repeated exposure up to 8 to 15 times, explained psychologist, Lucy Cooke to NPR.
Through her own research, Cooke found that kids trying new vegetables at school or at home, were more likely to eat more of the same vegetable three months later, without any reward if they were given a sticker when first introduced to new vegetable three months before.
The key ingredients in Cooke’s success were to offer pea-sized sample sizes, only during snack times and offer a reward. Cooke also points to making sure parents do not criticize the child if they don’t eat their vegetables. Now Cooke has a program called Tiny Tastes, that offers more tips for kids and parents going through the vegetable tasting journey.
Also, psychologist Helen Coulthard suggests letting kids play with veggies.
Coulthard explained to NPR that a recent study where kids were allowed to play with fruits and vegetables helped them imagine more what the food might feel like inside their mouths, making kids more prone to trying new vegetables.
Salud Hero and registered Nurse Derek Dimas in Corpus Christi knows this for a fact, as he has helped hundreds of school children try new fruits and vegetables through play with his Fun with Fruit program. The program not only allows students and adults to play together creating works of art with fresh fruits and vegetables but also encourages them to eat their art as a fun snack!
To learn more about other Salud Heroes that are helping to create healthy food environments like Derek, click here!