Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Food neophobia

According to research done in the U.K., up to 80% of children inherit their fear of new foods from their parents. Unfortunately, these children will avoid healthy foods like fruits and vegetables preferring to stick with less healthy but familiar foods. We all know children who reject even the idea of tackling Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. The advice offered to overcome food neophobia is to keep serving the new food alongside food that your children are familiar with and happy to eat. Once they gain familiarity with the food, and are comfortable about it being on their plate, they may try a nibble

What intrigues me is: when we weaned our babies, didn’t we start them on strained fruits and vegetables? I know I started my children on carrots, then I added courgettes and potatoes, etc. Over time, the only thing that changed was the coarseness of the mix. Mind you, my children have never suffered with neophobia. My eldest, who used to love all her veg mashed together with the addition of a little gravy or marmite, did get fussy for a while. Then everything had to be separate on the plate – and spaced from everything else. But she did eat it all.

My middle child appeared to stop eating for a while, just long enough for me to wonder if she might be anorexic. But she started eating again after about four days, and even ate enough to make up for lost time! Years later, when she went onto the ‘maintenance’ program with Weight Watchers and continued to lose weight at a rapid rate, her lecturer even asked her if she was anorexic… her reply was that she loved food far too much for that to be the case!

My son was only ever picky about fish – which came about because he always seemed to get at least one bone in his serving. He has overcome this with age, and now enjoys fish.

The moral? Start them out right. Fresh fruit and veg, preferably prepared at home, from the very first meal. Why would they ever look askance at a vegetable?

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