Children and Summer: A Time to Introduce and Savor Vegetables
Most of children don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables. It is a fact. As adults, we aren’t much better. Fortunately, for those of us living in the northern hemisphere, this is the season of hope. Summer is bringing garden-fresh zucchini, peas, carrots, tomatoes, corn on the cob, and succulent strawberries. If you don’t garden, fresh produce will be showing up in local roadside stands and local marketplace. Yummm!
Food patterns change with the seasons. Sugo and colleagues examined 4 day diet records of 92 men and 92 women living in 3 Japanese communities at 4 seasons of the year (spring, summer, autumn, and winter). Intakes of fat (mono- and poly-unsaturated fat and cholesterol) and thiamin and iron showed seasonal variability.
Exposing children to new vegetables early in life will encourage them to eat more vegetables. Repeated offerings are the simplest means to increase vegetable consumption. Unlike most mothers who give up after 5 attempts, it is important to have a child try a new vegetable at least 8-10 times. Success will depend upon the fussiness of the child and their age. Older children are more resistant to trying a new vegetable. School-based programs can modestly increase fruit and vegetable consumption.
But as a parent, it is important to model healthy dietary behaviors. As Professor Hetherington says, “If you want to encourage your children to eat vegetables, make sure you start them early and often.”
Sugo H, Asakura K, Sasaki S, Nojima M, Okubo H, Hiroto N, Notsu A, Fukui M, Date C. Effect of seasonality on the estimated mean value of nutrients and ranking ability of a self-administered diet history questionnaire. 2014 Nutr J doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-13-51
Ransley JK, Greenwood DC, Cade JE, Blenkinsop S, Schagen I Teeman D, Scott E, White G, Schagen S, Does the school fruit and vegetable scheme improve children’s diet? A non-randomised controlled trial. 2007 J Epidem Commun Health doi: 10.1136/jech.2006.052696
Anderson AS, Porteous LE, Foster E, Higgins C, Stead M, Hetherington M, H M-A, Adamson AJ. The impact of a school-based nutrition education intervention on dietary intake and cognitive and attitudinal variables relating to fruits and vegetables. 2005 Publ Health Nutr doi: 10.1079/PHN2004721
Gaton SJ, Blundell P, Ahern SM, Nekitsing G, Olsen A, Moller P, Hausner H, Remy E, Nicklaus S, Chabanet C, Issanchou S, Hetherington MM. Learning to eat vegetables in early life: The role of timing, age and individual eating traits. 2014 PLoS ONE doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097609