I found myself getting cranky reading about a?recent Stanford study which found that young children (ages 4-5) voluntarily ate more vegetables after teachers read them specially created nutrition books. The books avoided vegetable lectures and, instead, taught cool facts about healthy eating, digestion, and food groups. Compared to a control group, the test kids had greater willingness to dig into their veggies at snack time.
You’re probably thinking “why get mad at the vegetable-book study?”
It’s because at our house, we’ve read every book I could find to inspire vegetable-love in my vegetable-hating kid. We’ve read kids’ books about farms, plants, gardening, nutrition, the body, and kids’ cooking. She loved the books, but didn’t budge.
Yes, I sneak vegetables into other foods, but I also try non-sneaky, pro-vegetable efforts like:
- Having her help select produce at the store
- Creating/maintaining a vegetable garden
- Visiting farms and farmers’ markets
- Cooking fun, healthy meals together (she picked the vegetables off her pizza)
The good news? My daughter shows interest in selecting, growing and cooking vegetables.
The bad news? At meal time, all we hear is this defensive protest: “But I DO eat raw carrots, lettuce and the trunks of broccoli trees. The rest is gross!”
The Stanford vegetable-book study showed kids making healthier school snack choices, yet they admit that “More research is needed to find out whether the gains in healthy eating would translate to other mealtimes, including at home.”
Wah-wah-wah! Welcome to my battlefield.
I am reminded of the popular children’s book, Pinkalicious (which my daughter adores). The book’s heroine is a little girl so obsessed with eating pink cupcakes that she turns pink herself (fun at first, then not so fun). The antidote? Eating all the green foods in the fridge, depicted as disgusting but healthy, to restore her normal skin tone.
Grownups may think the book’s moral is: “You can eat yummy sweets of all colors in moderation, but don’t forget your greens and other vegetables.” But for my kid, the moral is: “sweets=good, vegetables=gross.”
Sigh. I need a treat.