Feed picky kids color to boost appetitesBy Shayna Brouker • Published: March 6th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
There’s one in every family: The kid who won’t touch anything green, grainy, slimy or remotely healthy. Picky eaters can make the dinner table a battleground for parents trying to nourish growing girls and boys ― and neither side is willing to back down.
But parents, here’s one slick move you can add to your arsenal of eating tricks: Serve food on colorful plates. According to a study from Cornell University, colorful foods and a variety of patterns were more appealing to children than adults. The study, which was published in the journal Acta Paediatrica (Pee-dee-at-rik-uh), found children chose plates with seven different items and six different colors. Adults tend to lean toward less ― just three items and three colors. Arranging items into fun shapes, like turning a strip of bacon into a smile, also made food fun for kids ― and increased their appetites.
Another study found that giving vegetables snazzy names made kids eat almost twice the amount of veggies as they did on days when carrots were simply called “carrots.” But “X-ray Vision Carrots” were much more appealing. Kids even continued to eat about 50 percent more carrots on days they weren’t nicknamed.
Adults fell for it, too. A restaurant study found that adding adjectives to a plain-sounding dish like seafood filet increased sales by 28 percent and taste ratings by 12 percent. Succulent Italian seafood filet just sounds so much more satisfying.
But what if even your most artistic arrangements of food fall flat? Pediatricians advise not fighting with your child’s favorites. If Lisa likes only yellow foods, like mac and cheese and crackers, offer bananas, corn and squash. Offer options when shopping for vegetables; let her pick red peppers or green beans, whichever she prefers. Remember: Healthy eating habits start at home.