Much research has gone into just how taste buds work. What we do know is that taste is genetic, individual, and preferences can change as you age and try new foods that you learn to enjoy. How broccoli tastes to you can be very different from what your child tastes.
However, research has also shown that culture often overrides your childhood taste likes and dislikes. What does this mean for your child who prefers sweets to veggies? It means she’s probably not being picky or controlling. She really just does not like the taste of vegetables. However, it also means that you can teach your child and her taste buds to experiment and enjoy her vegetables. Below are four tips.
Let the kids cook
Kids who cook their own food are more likely to want to eat that food at the dinner table. Allow your child to be involved as much as possible, from choosing the vegetable to cooking and then putting the vegetable on the plate. She may even nibble on the vegetable as she cooks which is a great way to get her to experiment with new foods.
Add some flavor
If your child’s taste buds make broccoli or carrots taste bitter and offensive, then hiding some of that flavor will help. Try cooking the vegetables with some butter, seasoned salt, or other spices to change the flavor of the vegetables. You can also try providing different dips such as oil and balsamic vinegar or low-fat salad dressings.
Popsicle peas and other surprising favorites
Here’s a trick that takes no extra work on your part. Open a bag of frozen peas or mixed veggies and pour them onto your child’s plate. Many kids who may otherwise never touch such foods relish “popsicle” peas, carrots, and corn. Some other surprising favorite vegetables include cooked sliced beets, cooked beans, and grape tomatoes.
Play with your food
Kids are naturally suspicious of new foods before it even enters their mouth. This is because kids rely on their sense of sight and smell to decide if a food is going to taste good. In a 2007 study published in Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, kids said that food packaged in McDonald’s food containers tasted better than the same food packaged in plain wrapping.
While this may seem like a boon for McDonald’s marketing, what it also shows is that kids trust food that is presented in a fun manner. So, when cooking and putting the food on your kids’ plate, have a little fun and get creative. Turn broccoli into trees, cooked beets into worms, and then let your child eat the “scenery.” Of course, you could also try putting the vegetables into McDonald’s French fry boxes.
The best thing you can do to get your kids to eat more vegetables is to involve them in meal preparation. Give them some control over their meals and at the same time, you’ll be teaching them healthy eating habits. Also, don’t forget to eat your veggies. Kids also learn good eating habits from their parents.