Vegetables have nutritional and emotional benefits?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The addition of vegetables to a meal is psychologically motivated, resulting in positive emotional benefits.
WHAT WE KNOW
Have you ever felt guilty after eating a food that you were trying to resist, such as a candy bar? Well, adding vegetables to your diet may have the opposite effect. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of key nutrients such as potassium, folate, and other vitamins and minerals. They provide a strong defense against disease as well as reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and some cancers. They are also low in calories, which helps with weight maintenance. A recent study shows that adding vegetables to a meal also has positive emotional benefits for the diner … as well as the preparer.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
A study published in Public Health Nutrition found that adding vegetables enhances enjoyment of a meal and heightens the diners’ perception of the cook. The study was conducted in two phases, consisting of interviews and a survey of 500 mothers who had at least 2 children under 18 years of age. They were asked to evaluate meals served with or without vegetables, as well as the cooks who prepared them. They chose from a list of attributes, such as selfish or loving, to describe the meal preparer. The ratings for meals served with vegetables were much higher than those without. For example, diners preferred beef with broccoli rather than just beef. They also chose more positive attributes for the meal preparer who served a meal including vegetables. Overall, vegetables enhanced the expectations of the meal as well as the perception of the cook.*
Gather the whole family for meal preparation. Teaching your children to have a healthy relationship with food will give them a better appreciation for a healthy lifestyle. They will also gain a sense of responsibility and satisfaction by being involved.
There’s a job for everyone in your family when it comes to meal preparation …
- Let your child (or other family member) choose a healthy side dish for dinner. Another family member can help set the table and someone else can be your kitchen assistant.
- While cutting fruits and vegetables for the meal, allow each child to taste a piece and explain what it is.
- Visit our Cooking with Kids section for kid-friendly recipes and tips for getting your kids in the kitchen!
Finally, make meal time a family affair. Try to sit with your family around the dinner table, most nights, without the television or other distractions. Engage your children in conversations about their day. This too will help your children have healthy relationships with food.
* Wansink, B., M. Shimizu, and A. Brunberg. “How Vegetables Make the Meal: Their Hedonic and Heroic Impact on Perceptions of the Meal and of the Preparer.” Public Health Nutrition
(2012): n. pag. Web. 28 Nov. 2012. View Article