Have you ever wondered why your child won’t eat vegetables? It’s a much more complicated discussion than just not liking green foods. The food industry, early exposure, and marketing all play a role in the foods we feed our children. The first 2 years of life are all about learning, and it should be recognized that eating a variety of foods is a learning process as well. The earlier you expose kids to vegetables, the more they are likely to eat and enjoy them long term. A child’s food preference directly affects behavior, which in turn will affect overall wellness, links to obesity and health. Food choices are a learned behavior, much like anything else.
Reducing sodium and sugar intake early on can help set taste preferences and help children make healthy food choices later in life. However, a report from the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity found only 4 out of 80 baby and toddler snacks met nutritious standards. In addition, 50% of baby food snacks and 83% of toddler food snacks contained added sweeteners.
It is even more difficult to compete with the toy-tie ins marketing strategies company’s use to grab the attention of kids in less healthy food.
So, as parents, what do we do? Start with vegetables as your child’s first foods, continue to offer veggies twice a day, let your child explore their vegetables, grow a garden together, visit the grocery store together, cook together, model the behavior yourself, limit screen-time, stay informed on healthy options, and remove the stress from mealtimes. You’ll be surprised at the wide variety of foods your child will enjoy the more you instill these practices!