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Why don't children eat their veggies?

It’s a well-known struggle to many parents: children don’t want to eat vegetables. But why is that? Sophie Nicklaus did research into this, and spoke about it during the Healthy Food Congress

Taste, low calorific value, lack of marketing and the simple fact that children are children and therefore don’t like doing what their parents want them to. In short, these are the four points French researcher Sophie Nicklaus determined in her research into vegetable consumption among children. “Children have a small stomach, but they do need energy. Their stomachs are full even though they consumed very few calories. And look at vegetables: they often don’t look great in supermarkets, especially compared to other products on the shelves.”

It creates a situation in which, when children are given a plate of chips, meat and salad, the healthy food is often not eaten. Vegetables are at the top of the ‘don’t want pyramid.’

Vary - start Early - cookinG - Educate - Talk - food neophobiA, Breast feed, be a role modeL, rElax and perSist. These tips combined make up the word ‘vegetables.’

And now what?
Sophie didn’t just determine this, but she also came up with possible solutions for parents. Giving the right example, for instance, and offering the vegetables early, even before conception, but definitely when still breastfeeding, and don’t give up after just three times. “How long does it take for a child to learn to politely say ‘please’?” Additionally, giving children the choice of which vegetables to eat, finding creative ways on the internet to present them, and even adding extra calories by preparing them with cheese or oil. It could also help to offer the vegetables before the meal: snack product. “Offer the vegetables first, and only then the rest of the meal. They’ll already have eaten their 100 grams of vegetables, before other choices are offered.”

Say: Great, pumpkin season has started again. Don’t say: Here, eat some vegetables, they’re good for you.

She also has some tips for the fresh produce sector, which they can immediately start using. Regarding kids-marketing, for example. With photos of the fresh produce shelves she shows that it actually looks quite boring. “Vegetables don’t look edible or pretty. And in supermarkets you have to compete with all of the other products that do look cool.” And there’s the way of praising vegetables. Children don’t care that food is healthy, according to Sophie. “Or that vegetables are full of vitamins. Children don’t understand that at all. And if they don’t like it, they won’t care either.” So what should you say? “Don’t these vegetables look pretty? What beautiful colours,” for example. Or: “Great, it’s pumpkin season again! These taste just like in grandpa’s garden.” That way, the unknown becomes known.  

Publication date: 9/13/2017



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