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Goodbye Food Pyramid. Now How Do You Get Kids to Eat Veggies?

usda and food pyramid

How do you make veggies the main course?

Today we said goodbye to the long-standing food pyramid, conceived in 1992 to advise American’s on their diets, and hello to MyPlate — the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new representation of the ideal diet. Easier to understand and use, and reflective of our unfolding knowledge of healthy nutrition.

Fruits and vegetables make up half the plate (yay!), grains and proteins get the remaining two quarters. Dairy is off to the side in a little cup — of yogurt or milk, for example. It’s a great development in my opinion. We tend to build meals around meat, when we should build meals around vegetables and think of meat as a side.

But I’m sure a lot of parents are thinking: all well and good, but how do you actually get a kid to eat her veggies?

Today, a study on getting kids to eat more veggies piqued my interest in light of the MyPlate news. Tell me what you think:

The study found that when kids under the age of six have multiple choices of vegetables, they eat up to 80 percent more veggies overall. Part of the reason for this is that certain vegetables, like spinach, onion, chard, broccoli, and cabbage have a bitter taste (produced by the natural chemical compound, glucosinolate) to which some kids have a gene that makes them more sensitive.

In other words, certain kids have a legitimate reason to turn up their nose at broccoli, but if they have bowls of cucumbers, avocado, and asparagus in front of them, they’re more likely end the meal having eating veggies.

So don’t put all your eggs in one basket by making one veggie with dinner and hoping for the best.

That’s one idea – but there are many more! What’s your approach to making vegetables a sizable part of your kid’s diet? Do you take the Jessica Seinfeld approach and hide them? I’ve found that shopping and cooking with my son helps. What do you do?

Image: flickr

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