Every parent knows that getting young children to eat veggies can be a struggle. In fact, less than half of children ages 2 to 5 eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day.

This isn’t surprising since evolution has programmed young kids to shun bitter-tasting foods (a survival technique that kept our hunter-gatherer ancestors from eating toxic plants).

So how can we help children learn to love vegetables that are rich in nutrients and antioxidants? Research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reveals one effective tip…

Dip ‘em! (The veggies, not the kids!) veggies and dip

The study of more than 150 preschool kids first found that 70% of the kids were especially sensitive to the bitter taste found in cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli.

But serving “dip” with the broccoli worked magic.

The preschoolers who were sensitive to the bitter taste of broccoli – and therefore most likely to avoid it – ate 80% more broccoli when it was served with “dip” (in this case, Hidden Valley ranch dressing) compared to when it was served alone.

They also ate more broccoli when it was served with a “dip” versus using the same dressing as a sauce. Can you blame them? Dipping is fun!

Side note: if your child doesn’t seem to be sensitive to bitter tastes, you need to take these findings with a grain of salt. The study found that kids who were NOT sensitive to bitter tastes actually ate less broccoli when it was offered with reduced fat dip.

So… do your own experiment at home and see what works for your child.

  • Is your child more likely to eat broccoli with a dip or without?
  • What dips does your child like best? (My kids are suckers for both ranch dip and hummus.)

Share what works best for you!

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