Kids who are fussy eaters cause parents a lot of anguish, so wouldn’t it be great if it could easily be solved? Maybe it can be…
A new study suggests that parents could banish their children’s fussy eating habits by following three simple steps.
Introducing the ‘three Rs’ – Repetition, Role Modelling and Rewards – at meal times could help parents to get their children to eat, and even like, new vegetables, according to new research from Aston and Loughborough Universities. These three simple steps have shown to have significantly increased the amount of certain foods children are willing to eat.
Repetition – repeatedly exposing a child to a certain food.
Role Modelling – eating it first and show them how tasty it is.
Rewards – praising them for trying it.
The study found that introducing the ‘three Rs’ dramatically increased children’s liking and consumption of vegetables that they previously disliked.
Dr Claire Farrow, of the Aston Research Centre for Child Health, said: “Not eating enough fruits and vegetables is one of the main risk factors for global mortality. Eating more fruits and vegetables could prevent numerous cancers, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Children in the UK, however, do not eat enough of them – with only about 20% of them achieving the recommended five-a-day.
“It can be very challenging for families to encourage their children to eat a healthy, balanced diet as children naturally go through stages during their toddler years when they are often fussy and will refuse new foods, particularly vegetables. This is a normal developmental stage for children, but it can often lead to a restricted diet as children become fussier and fussier about what they will not eat. Families need evidence-based scientific advice about what they can do to help encourage children to taste, and eventually like, new or disliked fruits and vegetables.
Our research shows that a combination of repeatedly exposing children to vegetables, rewarding them for trying the food and modelling enjoying eating the vegetable yourself, can help to encourage children to taste and eventually like vegetables which they did not previously like eating. Eating behaviours have been shown to track throughout childhood and into adulthood – so it is vitally important that children are exposed to fruits and vegetables early in life to inform healthy eating as they grow into adolescence and adulthood.”
So, these three simple steps could be the answer to your dinner time nightmares, just make sure you don’t eat all your child’s food in the role modelling stage!