Battling Broccoli

If you’re a parent, you’ve more than likely experienced your little darlings crisis and tantrums at the dinner table. And you’ve probably asked yourself, more than once, “why won’t my kids eat their vegetables?”

Perhaps you were once one of those kids yourself.  I know I was!  My mother is still baffled how years later her child who would rather go hungry than eat a single green thing, became a strict vegetarian.

Maybe now I can give her an answer.  Research has found that about more than two thirds of children have sensitivity to bitterness. Dislike of the bitterness may stem from the TAS2R38 gene, which influences how we perceive bitter tastes.

The  study, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that 70% of kids tested were bitter-sensitive, meaning bitter foods, such as broccoli and cucumber, can have a very unpleasant taste to them.

The study did provide some hope, though: Bitter-sensitive kids who were offered ranch dip with their greens, ate 8% percent more vegetables than kids who weren’t given the dip. The findings held true regardless of the fat content of the dip, with kids consuming as many vegetables with low-fat ranch dressing as they did with a full fat version.  At the end of the 7 week study, the number of children who said broccoli tasted “yummy” also increased by 18 percent.

I’ve never met a parent who’s not familiar with the daily struggle to get their kids to eat better,” said veggie expert and registered dietitian Jodie Shield. “It’s helpful for parents to know that there is a reason why their kids might not eat vegetables and exciting to see that simple actions like offering a dip can have a profound difference in a child’s eating habits.”

So what if your kids don’t like ranch dressing either?  Don’t fear, SRxA’s Word on Health has a number of other viable veggie solutions!

  • Grow Your Own: Children love to plant things and watch them grow.  Besides, home-grown veggies taste so much better
  • Get Your Kids Involved in the Process:  children who help to prepare and cook their own food are more likely to eat those foods and even ask for seconds
  • Making Veggie’s Fun: Teach your kids about vegetables. Make up stories about Peter the pea and Charlie the cucumber. Make veggies their friends.
  • Make Eating Fun: Get creative with serving and decorating their plates. Making veggies part of a familiar shape such as a smiley face or an animal, will get them eating in no time

For more great ideas why not check out

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