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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 15-Jul-11


Friday 14-July-11

Fruit looking good

When I was nobbut a lad, fruit was a luxury. I'd get an orange in my Christmas stocking and be glad of it. We'd eat windfall apples and try to avoid the bad bits and worms. Imports were expensive and you ate whatever was in season, which meant strawberries lasted for just about a month. Vegetables were similar and you ate what there was. We'd joke at school about the 'bullet peas' and 'rainbow potatoes', and still eat them.

So I was a bit perplexed when I read a report on how modern children are turning their nose up at fruit and vegetables and researchers are exploring ways of making the food more attractive.

Esther Jansen and colleagues have reported that young people will eat more fruit if it 'looks good'. For example they found that children would eat more cubes of fruit if they are arranged as a 'hedgehog', stuck on cocktail sticks which are stuck into a potato, in comparison with the same cubes in an ordinary dessert bowl.

Of course companies like McDonald's have known this for a long time and use attractive packaging and 'free' toys to get kids to pester their parents into buying them. This doesn't tell us how much is actually eaten but it is another idea for frustrated parents who can be more decorative with the food, such as making 'vegetable faces' on the plate or cut fruit into interesting shapes. Another suggestion is to hide the vegetables and fruit in soups, sauces, smoothies and the like.

Whilst I inwardly cringe at such shenanigans it may well be a helpful idea for parents who are trying to get their children to eat their 'five a day' (is it less for young children?). My approach for our kids was much simpler. You ate what you were given at meal times otherwise there was nothing until the next meal (except fruit).

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