We loved working with our friends at See & Eat as part of our Healthy Happy Me theme on Baillie Gifford Schools Gala Day. Below, they share more information about their research, and how you can apply it to help children enjoy eating a variety of vegetables!
It can be difficult to persuade young children to eat a variety of vegetables, which is an important aspect of a healthy diet. Research shows that young children are more likely to eat their vegetables at mealtimes if they are pre-familiarised with them beforehand. Learning about where vegetables come from and the different ways they can be prepared makes children much more accepting of healthy foods when they appear on their plate.
Over the past 15 years, researchers at the University of Reading have established that looking at picture books about vegetables for a few minutes a day for a couple of weeks is enough to bring about acceptance of the vegetable into the child’s diet. The SEE & EAT team have developed a range of activities to support parents, teachers and carers in their efforts to promote healthy eating.
SEE & EAT Books
SEE & EAT paperback books and eBooks each show ‘the farm to fork’ journey of an individual vegetable. We encourage you to choose a vegetable that children do not enjoy or are reluctant to try. The book will allow you to discuss how the vegetable grows (in the ground, on the vine, etc), how it is prepared (raw or cooked), and how children might like to eat it. SEE & EAT books are available as paperback books or as free ebooks, which can be edited and personalised by children on a tablet or smartphone.
Other SEE & EAT Familiarisation Activities
There are many ways for children to become familiar with new vegetables. Our research shows that encouraging children to explore vegetables with all of their senses – vision, touch, smell & sound – without placing any pressure on children to eat the vegetable, makes the child more likely to taste a vegetable when later given the opportunity. You can find a wide range of ideas for activities that will help children to become more familiar with vegetables on our Activities and Resources page, while our VeggieSense activity sheet shows how you can encourage children to explore vegetables with all their senses.
SEE & EAT research
Further information about the research behind SEE & EAT and how to take part in our studies can be found on the Kids Food Choices website https://research.reading.ac.uk/kids-food-choices/