Kids in Thailand eat dried shrimp and lemongrass rice without pooh-poohing the flavors. Japanese children enjoy grilled fish, raw egg, miso soup and fermented soybeans for breakfast!
But youre desperate to get your 6-year-old to taste anything healthier or more flavorful than a french fry or spaghetti with butter and cheese. So you puree veggies in fruit smoothies and opt for supplements just to get some nutrients into your youngster. Not bad moves, but were betting you can expand your childs food favorites if youll expand yours.
Parental behavior is crucial in shaping food preferences. For most kids, flavor choices are a result of nurture more often than nature, maybe even starting in the womb. Research suggests that moms who eat junk food when pregnant tend to have kids who eat junk food and are overweight.
And even kids who do have an actual physiological aversion to certain flavors (many react strongly to bitter tastes) eventually can learn to expand their list of acceptable foods.
Repeated exposure alters flavor perception. So dish up broccoli in clever ways: grilled, in a creamy soup, cold with a yogurt dip.
If you are enthusiastic about eating healthfully, take time to cook good food in tasty ways, and stop feeding your child processed, salty and sugary foods they make it very difficult to appreciate other flavors. That kid of yours will naturally ask for another serving of edamame (soybeans), asparagus and oven-roasted kale.
Try it. You'll all like it!
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of The Dr. Oz Show, and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.