Kitchen Gardens Improve Kids’ Diets
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Getting children to eat healthy foods can be a hassle, leading some parents to make special meals for their picky eaters just so they eat something. Now a new study suggests that serving foods kids grew themselves makes them more willing to try new foods and even make healthier decisions when it comes to mealtime.
For the study researchers followed 764 children in grades three to six and 562 parents participating in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program. Each week the children spent 45 minutes in a garden class with a gardening specialist and 90 minutes in the kitchen making various dishes such as handmade pastry, bread, salads, and desserts.
Throughout the program the children began to try ingredients and foods that were new to them without pressure to do so. Eventually, the kids became more willing to eat unfamiliar and different foods on their own.
Researchers believe that sitting down in class with other students to eat the meals they had grown and prepared added to the children’s expanding palates.
"Data and class observations also suggested that the social environment of the class increased children's willingness to try new foods,” Petra Staiger, Ph.D., co-investigator from Deakin University, was quoted as saying.
The kitchen garden program proved to improve more than just the students’ willingness to try new foods; they also began to make healthier meal choices on their own.
“Teachers at several schools also reported that they had seen a noticeable improvement in the nutritional quality of the food that children had been bringing to school for snacks and lunches since the program had been introduced,” study researcher Lisa Gibbs, Ph.D., was quoted as saying.
So if parents want to work more fruits and vegetables into their kids’ diets, making them feel invested in the process is a simple solution both can feel good about.
Source: Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, March/April 2013