The battle to get kids to eat their vegetables is one that should go in the history books. You have a little more control when your kid is home at the dinner table, but what about when you send lunches with them to school? Having kids return with everything eaten but their vegetables can be frustrating. If you want your kid to eat more veggies, a new study says letting them help with the task can do the trick.
The general rule for vegetables is to try getting about three to five servings per day. But, what the heck is a serving? Luckily, the Choose My Plate guideline gets a little more specific based on your child's age, according to VeryWell Family. For example, if your kid is between the ages of 4 and 8, they should eat 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups of vegetables each day. Older school kids should get about 2 to 4 cups of vegetables each day.
Let's be real, that's a lot of vegetables. Trying to get kids to eat some when they're away at school can seem like an impossible task, so you may be tempted to skip packing them altogether. But, one study found a pretty simple way to help get kids to eat their veggies at school.
A University of Illinois researcher found that almost half of the lunches that kids brought to school from home rarely or never contained vegetables.
But, if kids helped decide which foods to pack for lunch, the number of vegetables they brought actually increased, according to Medical Xpress.
Of the new finding, Carolyn Stutter, the study's leader author, said, according to Illinois News Bureau,
“When the child was more involved in deciding what to pack, their lunches contained more fruits and vegetables across the week and additional servings of vegetables on Mondays. Having the child help decide what they’ll eat for lunch may allow the parent and child to work together to choose fruits and vegetables the child is interested in eating."
If you think about it, that makes sense. Letting kids make their own decisions about their lunch gives them more motivation to actually eat it. Raising Children even recommended allowing kids to help cook vegetables at home. When kids are brought into the process, whether it's cooking or shopping, they're more excited to give vegetables a try.
It's also important to not force your kid to eat things they really don't want to. Newsweek reported that researchers at the University of Michigan found that forcing kids to eat things they don't like isn't helpful. According to Newsweek, researchers said forcing kids to eat doesn't actually change their eating habits and can make parent-child battles worse.
Instead, providing your child with autonomy and support may be more helpful in promoting healthy habit development, as noted by Medical Xpress.
"These parents may create guidelines and limits around what their child can pack in their lunch, such as requiring them to include a vegetable some days, but also be responsive to their child’s needs and dietary preferences," Stutter said, according to Medical Xpress.
The study found that parents are generally good about packing the appropriate amount of fruit and kids ate it, so most people don't need to worry about that, according to Illinois News Bureau.
If you've given up on packing your kids' vegetables, though, consider bringing them into the process. Eating shouldn't be a constant battle. Letting your kids have some choices about their daily lunches helps make it less so.
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