Encouraging children to eat healthily

Studies have revealed that taking a balanced approach to making a meal could encourage children to eat a more balanced diet and improve their development. Two sets of research by Dr Brian Wansink, the John Dyson Professor of Consumer Behaviour at Cornell University have found empowering youngsters' culinary creativity can help them learn to love their vegetables.

Dr Wansink, President of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behaviour, conducted the Birds Eye-funded analysis on finding new strategies for parents looking to encourage their sons and daughters to eat more greens.

The findings revealed vegetables help make a meal look more complete and the presence of these foodstuffs on a plate made preparers appear more attentive and thoughtful.

Furthermore, the research shows too many parents stop trying to make their little ones consume their five-a-day, even giving up on the vegetables they do enjoy, potentially laying the foundations for a poor diet.

Dr Gillian Harris, a Chartered Psychologist from the University of Birmingham, said: “The key to improving a young child’s intake of new foods, or foods that they are a little unwilling to eat, is to have the foods on show at mealtimes, so that the child not only sees the foods but also sees other adults and children eating the food.

"Once the food is on the table and others are eating it then gently prompting the child to try the food is generally successful in the long run in getting the child to put the food in their mouth.

"However, parents themselves do have to keep eating, and providing, the foods that are healthy for their child to eat.

"Both of these studies add to these concepts, having the vegetables on the plate will expose the child to the sight of the food and increase likely intake.

"If parents don’t provide healthy food and prompt their child to eat it then they are not likely to be able to include it in their diet.”