PORTION sizes and suitable “food pairings” could be key to getting kids to eat more vegetables, according to a new study.
The researchers concluded that putting more vegetables on your child’s plate could actually make them eat more of them.
A larger portion of vegetables could make a child eat more of them[/caption]
The scientific paper explains: “This study investigated the independent and combined effects on preschool children’s vegetable intake of serving a larger portion of vegetables and enhancing their flavor.”
It found that serving a larger portion of vegetables resulted in children eating 68% more of them on average.
The four week experiment involved 67 children.
They ranged from the ages of three to five years old.
The researchers found “food pairings” also played an important role[/caption]
Broccoli and sweetcorn were the ‘test vegetables’.
Portion sizes were increased from 60 grams to 120 grams.
Pennsylvania State University nutritional scientist Hanim Diktas said: “The increase we observed is equal to about one-third of a serving or 12 percent of the daily recommended intake for young children.
“Using this strategy may be useful to parents, caregivers, and teachers who are trying to encourage kids to eat the recommended amount of vegetables throughout the day.”
Researchers think the trick can also be used on adults.
However, the type of vegetables, the food they’re served with and portion sizes of the accompanying food must also be taken into account.
The researchers tried adding adding butter and salt to some of the vegetables but this didn’t seem to have a significant impact on the reults.
They do think “food pairings” play an important role though and were sure to serve the vegetables alongside other items that weren’t necessarily kid favourites.
The broccoli and corn was served with fish sticks, rice, applesauce, and a glass of milk.
Nutritional scientist Barbara Rolls said: “If you offer vegetables alongside, say, chicken nuggets you might be disappointed.
“Food pairings are something you need to be conscious of, because how palpable the vegetables are compared to the other foods on the plate is going to affect the response to portion size.
“You need to make sure your vegetables taste pretty good compared to the other foods.”
She added: “It’s important to serve your kids a lot of vegetables, but it’s also important to serve them ones they like because they have to compete with the other foods on the plate.
“Parents can ease into this by gradually exposing kids to new vegetables, cooking them in a way their child enjoys, and experimenting with different flavors and seasonings as you familiarize them.”
This research has been published online in the journal Appetite.
The team plans to conduct more experiments to find out what the maximum vegetable portion size could be before food waste becomes a problem.
It will also conduct other food pairing experiments.
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