A role model for healthy eating

Who do you think are the best role models for your child’s eating habits? Can you do anything to change your child’s stubborn eating ways? Well, if any of these questions intrigue you, we may have some advice for you. But brace yourself, it may require some fancy-dress, Yoda like patience and persistence more stubborn than your child’s resistance to embrace the plant side…

 

Research has specifically investigated who are the most influential role models for your child’s eating habits. Its was found that Mothers are better models than strangers (harpers and sanders 1975) which should come as no surprise. Older children are better models for your child than other younger children (birch 1980), but fictional superheroes, not even limited to the child’s favourites, are better models for shaping child eating behaviour than all of the above! (birch 1999). Okay now I’m not suggesting that you ask Spider-man to have dinner with your children every night. I’m also not suggesting you dress up as your kid’s favourite superhero every night either (although that certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea). I am however trying to highlight how important it is to have responsible eating models around your children. Remember these models can play a role in promoting healthy and unhealthy food…

 

Very few kids actually are fussy eaters. Many children who repeatedly turn down their greens do so because of an evolutionary innate fear of consuming poisonous vegetation. Simply put many children are naturally fearful of vegetables for evolutionary reasons. This trait would’ve served children well some 20,000 years ago, but now, unfortunately for parents who are trying to get Timmy to eat his veggies, it’s just an vestigial annoyance that often results in wasted food. Good news is, research has given it a name and found solution. The term neophobia is given to describe a fear of novel foods (new foods). Parents will often try feeding novel foods, often the form of vegetables but may give up after only 3 or 4 tries prematurely concluding that their child dislikes X food. However, researchers found that children will refuse novel foods (often in the form of green vegetables) from anywhere between 9-15 times before perceiving the food as safe. That’s a lot of turning down veggies before they accept the food as a part of their food preferences. So the take home message is persist with veggies in small amounts on the plate each day until your child deems the food as safe…

Certainly a child’s reluctance to eat certain foods can be both frustrating and worrying but by following our weekly tips you can help transform your kids eating habits from fussy to veggie in no time!