All parents have a different approach when it comes to getting his or her kid to eat more vegetables. Whether it’s growing vegetables in the garden, together as a family or banning treats until the dinner plate is clean, research suggests that teaching young children an overall, conceptual framework for nutrition may be of great help.
According to research, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, a conceptual framework helps children understand why eating a variety of foods is so important and also brings them to a point where they eat more vegetables by choice.
Psychological scientists at Stanford University speculated that preschoolers would be capable of understanding a more conceptual approach to nutrition, regardless of their young age.
"Children have natural curiosity - they want to understand why and how things work," the researchers stated. "Of course we need to simplify materials for young children, but oversimplification robs children of the opportunity to learn and advance their thinking."
The researchers assigned some preschool classrooms to read nutrition books while snacking time for about 3 months. In the same time other classrooms were assigned to conduct snack time as usual. After a while, the preschoolers were asked questions about nutrition.
As it turns out, the kids who had been reading the nutrition books were more likely to understand that food had nutrients, and that different kinds of nutrients were essential for numerous bodily functions. They were also more aware about digestive processes, understanding, for instance, that the stomach breaks down food and blood carries nutrients.
These children also more than doubled their voluntary intake of vegetables during snack time after the three-month intervention, whereas the amount that the other group ate was pretty much unchanged.
When the conceptual program was pitted against a more conventional teaching strategy focused on the enjoyment of healthy eating and trying new foods, the results showed that both interventions led to increased vegetable consumption. Yet, the children in the conceptual program showed more knowledge about nutrition and a greater overall increase in vegetable consumption.
Further research is needed to determine whether the conceptual intervention encourages healthy eating habits outside of snack time and whether it's effective over the long-term, but researchers trust that the intervention shows promise.
Boosting healthy eating is very important, so discovering new ways that end in amazing results is always beneficial for parents and obviously their kids.
What strategies do you use to boost healthy eating in your family? Share with us in the comments below as we are very interested to hear.