Are Colorful, Segmented Plates the Secret to Kids Eating More Fruits and Veggies?

Sunday, September 22, 2019

According to a recent survey, many American children go days without eating a single vegetable! And sadly, statistics show that bad eating habits are affecting our children’s health.

The incidence of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Kids may be picky eaters, often turning their noses up at the steamed broccoli you put on their dinner plates. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is critical to the health of our children. And the earlier they develop good eating habits, the better. Children who eat poorly (for example, too much sugar or salt) are more likely to eat poorly as adults.

Now, a new study suggests that the kind of plate you use may play a key role in getting your kids to eat healthier foods.

The study found that preschool children ate more vegetables when given segmented plates with pictures of fruits and vegetables on the plates. Researchers measured the number of fruits and vegetables consumed by 235 preschool children. School meals were served family-style, meaning that large, communal servings were given to each table and kids were able to serve themselves.

Initially, the children were given just plain white plates to eat their food. Four weeks later, the children were then given segmented plates with pictures of fruits and vegetables.

(You can purchase plates like these online).

The results?

“In comparing the amounts of fruits and vegetables used, the researchers found that the children dished themselves on average 13.82 grams more vegetables when using the segmented plates compared to the plain white ones,” according to the report.

“They also ate on average 7.54 grams more vegetables when using the segmented plates. The report also that the children ate slightly more fruit as well, but the difference was not considered to be statistically significant.”

How else can you get your child to eat more veggies and other healthy foods?
  • Meal prep. Credible research has shown that kids who are involved in the meal preparation process at home are more likely to make better food choices outside of the home. Kids whose meal prep may also be more likely to enjoy a wider variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Add flavor. You don’t need tons of butter and oil to make vegetables suitable for your child’s picky taste buds. Research has shown that using herbs and spices, like cumin, ginger and black pepper, to flavor veggies may make children eat more veggies.
  • Take it to the farm. Another way to encourage your kid to eat healthy is by taking him or her to your local farmers’ market. Seeing the array of colorful, fresh produce and learning about where these foods come from can be empowering. Instead of seeing fruits and vegetables as foods they have to eat, they may see them as the foods they want to eat.
  • Take it to the garden. One study suggests that if kids grow their own vegetables, they are more likely to eat them. So if you have a garden at home, have your kid help you out with the gardening. Again, doing activities like this may be empowering to your child and encourage healthy eating.
  • Don’t forget the water. Water is a very important nutrient that their bodies need to remain healthy. (The other five nutrients are protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins). Research has shown that kids who drink more water have a lower intake of sugar and saturated fat.
  • Be sneaky. Of course, you want your children to love the taste of kale, but some kids (and adults!) just may not like the taste of it and other leafy greens. The good news is you can mask greens in fruit smoothies. Try giving your child this Tropical Green Smoothie.

Just toss in your blender:
  • Kale or spinach
  • Mango
  • Strawberries
  • Orange juice
  • Milk

You can also add some fresh parsley, which is very nutrient-dense, to the fruit smoothies. You won’t even know it’s there!

And finally, I would have your child take a nutrient test. Many of us have nutrient deficiencies and imbalances but don’t even know it. The earlier you can pinpoint your child’s exact nutritional needs, the better. If your child does have any imbalances or deficiencies, you can work with a competent healthcare professional to possibly tweak your child’s diet and/or have him or her take quality supplements.

Let’s help our kids enjoy their healthiest lives!

Disclosure: I only recommend products or services I use or would use personally and believe will be good for my readers. Your opinions may vary from my opinions. Above links may contain affiliate links. You can also go here and read my PR and Disclosure Policies.

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