Anyone who has spent time with a child during a meal is well aware of the near impossible task of convincing them to eat their vegetables.  Yet show that same child a piece of cake or a cookie, and the once fussy kid is now gobbling down that sweet little treat.  The question is “why?”  Why are kids completely unwilling to eat vegetables, fruit, or other nutritious foods, but will devour all the sugar and fat you put in front of them?  The answer is genetics.  All humans are born with the unlearned preference for sweet and salt.  These preferences are further solidified based on the first sources of nutrition in life; breast milk.  This life-sustaining food source is composed of high amounts of fat and sugar, and the mother’s breast is naturally slightly salty.  As infants experience only these tastes for the first three to six months of life, it is no wonder that they maintain the desire for these same tastes that brought them such comfort in their early ears.  If you are looking to solve then conundrum of how to get kids to eat healthy, you have come to the right place.
So how do you encourage children to change their innate preferences?  Research has shown that young children are able to associate tastes with energy density
[i].  The higher the energy density, the more likely the child is to accept the taste, thus learning to enjoy that food source.  The best time to teach these positive associations is during the critical transition between the breast and solid foods.  During this learning curve, it is possible to teach children to not only tolerate, but also truly enjoy their vegetables, as well as other healthy food choices.  This can be accomplished by ensuring the child is receiving energy dense meals throughout the day.
If your kids are past this transition phase, it is still possible to curb their taste buds over time and improve their nutrition status during the conversion period.  There are a number of cookbooks out on the market now that are devoted to improving the health status of children, while still maintaining some of the comfort tastes that kids prefer.  One such cookbook is The Sneaky Chef[ii].  The authors of this book have developed recipes that literally sneak ‘undesirable’ vegetables like spinach and kale into smile-producing treats like muffins and brownies.  No kid would ever turn down one of these delectable treats.  There are other great books available that teach you how to convert recipes from highly refined and processed ingredients to those that are whole, organic, and nutrient packed.  An example of one of these ingenious publications is The Anti-inflammatory diet Cookbook[iii].  This must-have book, written by a naturopathic doctor, teaches you how to not only make better choices, but also convert favourite recipes in to healthier, more nutritious meals.
Just as each child has a different and unique personality, so too do they each have unique nutrition needs and requirements.  To ensure optimal health for your child, book an appointment with a naturopathic doctor.  Not only will our naturopathic doctors help you create a diet plan that is right for your kids, they will also help you determine what additional supplements your kids need to remain healthy, vibrant, and happy.

[i]Drewnowski, A., & Specter, S. (2004). Poverty and obesity: the role of energy density and energy costs. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrtition , 6-16