Young children don’t always want to eat what you want to give them!
If your child won’t eat vegetables and you’re pulling your hair out, two publications – “Tiny Tastes” and the Purely Nutrition story books – could be just what you want. They are produced by academic researchers – experts in the field of childhood nutrition. Those experts have translated research findings into practical child-friendly materials for you to share with your child, to encourage them to try new vegetables. And in addition, TastEd is an organisation which posts helpful ideas online as well as working with schools to find new ways of getting kids really interested in fruit and veg.
Research from University College London showed that even very reluctant children will start to like a vegetable more, and eat more of it, once they have tasted it at least 10 times. The more familiar a vegetable becomes, the more your child will like it. So Dr Lucy Cooke and colleagues developed the “Tiny Tastes” pack to give you a simple way of making this research work for you.
The way it works is that you focus on introducing one new veg at a time. Using one of the blank charts provided in the lovely pack, your child draws and names the vegetable they’re going to try, or you can use a sticker of the particular vegetable which is supplied with the kit.
For 14 days, you offer a very small piece of the chosen vegetable (the size of a 5p coin) and the child gets a star sticker on the chart every day they take even a tiny taste. Licking counts – they don’t need to actually eat the tiny piece. Evidence shows that repetition is what produces liking, and that most children need to taste a new food 10 times or more before they get to like it, hence the 14 days.
The Tiny Tastes pack talks you through how to use it and provides detailed answers to the questions you might have. It’s a fun activity pack with serious research behind it. You can order the pack for £5.99 plus postage from www.fbsresources.com (00-44-1923-445374) or read more about it at www.weightconcern.org.uk
“I think Tiny Tastes works so well because it involves the children and makes it into a game”
Purely Nutrition story books
Alexandra Campbell’s delightful series of story books was written in collaboration with academics at the University of Leeds. “The Knobbly Wobbly Bobbly Celeriac” is the first of the series which was developed to improve young (2-5 year olds) children’s preferences for, and intake of, fruit and veg. Research at the University of Leeds by Professor Marion Hetherington, Dr Pam Birtill and Chandani Nekitsing with Dr Jennie Cockroft has found that story and picture books that repeatedly expose young children to vegetables can increase a child’s willingness to taste the foods in the story.
The Knobbly Wobbly Bobbly Celeriac story of Alex and Morgan’s visits to the greengrocer’s with their mum is beautifully written and illustrated. At the back of the book are activities for you to do with your child to encourage them to play with and explore celeriac, and there are a couple of recipes to try. The rest of the series will feature butternut squash, pineapple, kiwi and mushrooms!
TastEd is a group of educators, writers and campaigners working to help schools and nurseries to deliver taste education, to give every child the opportunity to experience the joy of fresh vegetables and fruits. Founded by headteacher Jason O’Rourke and food write Bee Wilson, TastEd offers a system of fun sensory food lessons based on learning about food using all five senses. They bring fresh produce into the classroom and allow children to talk about what they see, smell, touch, hear and taste.
“At TastEd, we share a belief that every child deserves access to good food as well as the opportunity to try a range of ingredients. A child who won’t taste broccoli often becomes an adult who never eats it. Our mission is to create opportunities for children to use their natural curiosity to widen their preferences in a healthier and more diverse direction.”
During the current closure of schools because of covid19, TastEd are posting ideas for getting your child interested in trying fruit and vegetables in “TastEd Fun and Games for Families at Home”.
It’s great to have such appealing and fun resources and activities to help you get the children in your life interested in vegetables, which are based on studies of what actually works!
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