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Want Your Kids to Eat Their Greens? Try This Surprisingly Simple Trick

Want Your Kids to Eat Their Greens? Try This Surprisingly Simple Trick

Let’s face it. Kids are the ultimate skeptics, especially when it comes to upbeat songs about broccoli, assurances that peas and carrots are the very reason people grow strong and tall, or stories about Popeye’s spinach dependency.

Recently, however, research has shed some light on why sometimes even our most inventive tactics don’t seem to make healthful food more appealing to kids.

Don’t tell your children it’s good for them

According to a study from the University of Chicago, children are actually more likely to reject food when they know it’s good for them, and all our cajoling often only strengthens their resolve and will make them not eat whatever it is we want them to try.

“You influence what your child eats by choosing to serve certain foods at the table. Adding reasons and trying to convince them to eat often doesn’t work and can actually backfire,” says lead researcher Professor Ayelet Fishbach.

She explains that children seem to think that food can’t serve two purposes: it can’t be healthy and taste good at the same time.

So if you tell your kids that carrots are good for their eyes or will help them read better, it actually makes them less enthusiastic about eating them because they feel that if carrots are so good for them, they can’t possibly be delicious, too.

It’s better to say nothing than to praise the food for its healthiness

The children participating in the study listened to stories about a girl who was having a snack, and were then given a snack of their own. Each time the story presented a certain food as being good for them, the children ate less of it.

For instance, kids rated crackers as less tasty and ate fewer of them when the story mentioned that crackers would help them count to 100.

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So what’s the takeaway for parents?

“Just serve healthy food and make sure all you serve is healthy,” says Fishbach. “You can say that it’s yummy, but we didn’t see that it helps beyond serving the food and saying nothing at all, although it doesn’t hurt either.”

Of course, it’s only natural to want to encourage your kids to eat healthy foods, and your first instinct will probably be to tell them about all the great vitamins and nutrients that will benefit them.

But, if you frequently find yourself engaged in mealtime struggles, a better approach would be to simply bite your tongue and serve that spinach or cabbage without praising its healthiness.

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Be a role model

Another thing to be aware of is that children tend to be very responsive to role models, so when they see their parents eating and enjoying something, they will be more open to eating it as well.

“Serving a personal example is great. Your child will mimic you,” Fishbach explains.

Phil Casey, trainer and assessor of Allied Health courses at Open Colleges and father of two, agrees that giving an example is important, and adds that reducing snacks between meals and giving mealtimes structure can also help kids to form healthier eating habits.

“I cannot stress the importance of family mealtimes enough,” he says. “Giving structure to mealtimes is a good tactic, as children like routine.”

He also warns that;

“Once kids have finished, there should be no coming back as this can generate behaviour that is not ideal at mealtimes, as they will feel that they can just pick at their food and it will still be there later.”

So, in short, don’t make a big deal about serving healthy food, If you want your kids to eat their greens, just serve them and be a role model by eating and enjoying them yourself without going into detail about the nutritional value.

Kids are smarter than we give them credit for, and if you’re already extolling the benefits of broccoli or cabbage before it even hits their plate, they’re going to assume that there is a catch.

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More by this author

Marianne Stenger

Writer, Open Colleges

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Last Updated on March 24, 2021

8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

We’ve all done it. We’ve gone out and bought useless gadgets that we don’t really need, just because they seemed really cool at the time. Then, we are stuck with a bunch of junk, and end up tossing it or trying to sell it on Ebay.

On the other hand, there are some pretty awesome tech inventions that are actually useful. For instance, many of the latest home gadgets do some of your work for you, from adjusting the home thermostat to locking your front door. And, if used as designed, these tools should really help to make your life a lot easier—and that’s not just a claim from some infomercial trying to sell you yet another useless gadget.

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Take a look at some of the most popular “smart gadgets” on the market:

1. Smart Door Locks

A smart lock lets you lock and unlock your doors by using your smartphone, a special key fob, or biometrics. These locks are keyless, and much more difficult for intruders to break into, making your home a lot safer. You can even use a special app to let people into your home if you are not there to greet them.

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2. Smart Kitchen Tools

Wouldn’t you just love to have a pot of coffee waiting for you when you get home from work? What about a “smart pan” that tells you exactly when you need to flip that omelet? From meat thermometers to kitchen scales, you’ll find a variety of “smart” gadgets designed to make culinary geeks salivate.

3. Mini Home Speaker Play:1

If you love big sound, but hate how much space big speakers take up, and if you want a stereo system that is no bigger than your fist, check out the Play:1 mini speaker. All you have to do is plug it in, connect, and then you can stream without worrying about any interruptions or interface. You can even add onto it, and have different music playing in different rooms.

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4. Wi-Fi Security Cameras

These are the latest in home security, and they connect to the Wi-Fi in your home. You can use your mobile devices to monitor what is going on in your home at all times, no matter where you are. Options include motion sensors, two-way audio, and different recording options.

5. Nest Thermostat

This is a thermostat that lives with you. It can sense seasonal changes, temperature changes, etc., and it will adjust itself automatically. You will never have to fiddle with a thermostat dial or keypad again, because this one basically does all of the work for you. It can also help you to save as much as 12% on heating bills, and 15% on cooling bills.

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6. Smart Lighting

Control your home lighting from your remote device. This is great if you are out and want to make sure that there are some lights on. It is designed to be energy efficient, so it will pay for itself over time because you won’t have to spend so much on your monthly energy bills.

7. Google Chromecast Ultra

Whether you love movies, television shows, music, etc., you can stream it all using Google Chromecast Ultra. Stream all of the entertainment you love in up to 4K UHD and HDR, for just $69 monthly.

8. Canary

This home security system will automatically contact emergency services when they are needed. This system offers both video and audio surveillance, so there will be evidence if there are any break-ins on your property. You can also use it to check up on what’s happening at home when you are not there, including to make sure the kids are doing their homework.

Featured photo credit: Karolina via kaboompics.com

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