The 1 Big Mistake Moms Are Making at Mealtime

kid eating a plate of vegetablesParents have faced the age-old challenge of coaxing their kiddos to eat their vegetables in so many different ways. We've hoped for years that promises of Popeye-like strength if they eat their greens will do the trick, but believe it or not, that may be exactly what's turning children against the nutrient-packed food group. A recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that kids may be more likely to eat their fruits and veggies if they don't know how good they are for them. In other words, ignorance is bliss.

Researchers from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business found that when food is presented to kids aged 3 to 5 as making them strong or as a tool to help them reach a goal (like learning how to read or count), they were more likely to decide that the food wasn't tasty. In turn, they would eat less of it.


Yep, all those pep talks about how awesome carrots and kale are for your kid and all the magic powers they'll give them are backfiring -- in a big way!

This shouldn't really come as much of a surprise to parents, though. Think about it: When's the last time you gave your child a big speech about the benefits of ice cream or cookies? Uh, never! In fact, we usually make it such a big deal "treat" that it's no wonder lots of kids would prefer dessert over any other part of their meal. When we're preemptively defensive about fruits and vegetables and give kids a whole, trumped-up epistle about their benefits, it's no wonder they're skeptical!

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For that reason and considering this new research, it's clear parents are better off not talking up the foods they really want their kiddos to eat. Maybe keeping our lips zipped will prove even more productive when they're little. And then one day, once they're already into the healthier goodies on their plate, we fill them in on all the benefits. Because at that point, it'll just be a bonus, not bait.

How do you talk about fruits and vegetables with your kids?


Image via iStock/matka_wariatka

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