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Raising Kids Who Say, “Yum, Broccoli!” Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln (PHL)


Training A Child’s Taste Buds

arents often lament that they find it hard to get their kids to eat veggies. With childhood obesity in epidemic proportions, training kids’ taste buds to enjoy and prefer vegetables from infancy and toddlerhood gives parents the best chance at helping their children form lifetime healthy eating habits. It’s not a journey without obstacles. The latest statistics still show 90% of TV or screen/online food marketing aimed at children is for unhealthy food. Research from the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity finds that strong emotional associations are created through advertisements with children able to recognize brands and logos by the time they’re two years old— and once those emotional attachments are established, they are hard to break. The tricks food companies use to get veggies into your kids’ diets, like hiding kale in tater tots or mixing vegetables into fruit purees, don’t really work to develop a veggie habit. Rather, it trains a child’s taste buds to like salt or fruit sugars instead of the distinct flavor of vegetables. Infancy and toddlerhood are critical stages of development that provide the best opportunity to introduce a wide variety of “unmasked” vegetable flavors. Kids need to experience the actual vegetable—how it looks, its taste, and its texture—to help them learn to prefer healthy food, says Dr. Natalie Muth of the American Academy of Pediatrics.


Kids And Gardens Where to begin with that experience? According to multiple studies compiled by the University of Colorado, children who are involved in growing their own food are more likely to eat fresh fruit and vegetables. Allowing your toddler to dig in the ground with you in your garden can set the stage for associating veggies with a happy experience. Preschool can provide another garden opportunity. Educare of Lincoln and Community Action Partnership incorporate gardens into their preschool programming. Southern Heights Presbyterian Church created a two-acre garden called the Food Forest that includes an outdoor classroom for kids. Dimensions Education Preschool program also offers children an opportunity to care for a garden in their outdoor classroom.

School Gardens And Harvest Of The Month Lincoln Public Schools have embraced the value of gardens and gardening to the overall health of children, as well. There are currently 27 outdoor school gardens in addition to a number of indoor tower gardens. Tower gardens are yearround, indoor vertical growing sys-

tems that plug into an electrical source to grow plants using circulating water & nutrients rather than dirt. The gardens not only teach kids about the science of growing, but also provide an ongoing opportunity to taste fresh produce. Learn more about school gardens and the LPS Sustainability program at lps.org/recycling. Further promoting healthy eating, two Lincoln faith-based schools, St. Michael’s and St. Patrick’s, have incorporated “Harvest of the Month” into their curriculum, allowing students to taste test locally sourced, in-season fresh produce or food from their own raised bed gardens. The WeCook program in Lincoln’s Community Learning Centers teaches kids how to make healthy snacks incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables.

Starting A Garden If you’re interested in starting your own garden, you can find gardening-

related classes and educational resources from UNL Extension at lancaster.unl.edu/yard-garden. If you’d like to have or share a plot in a community garden, or are interested in starting a garden at your church, business or shared neighborhood space, contact Community Crops at communitycrops.org. Then dig in with your kids and start them on the road to healthy weights and loving broccoli. Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln (PHL) is a non-profit o rg a n i z a t i o n dedicated to improving the health, wellness, and fitness of our community. We collaborate with other organizations on joint projects to improve health by increasing physical fitness, promoting healthy weights and good nutrition, supporting breastfeeding, and improving vaccination and cancer screening rates.

Lincoln Kids! Newspaper Summer 2019 Edition  

May • June • July • It's the big summer issue! activities | camps | events | resources | health | safety kid-friendly | family-friendly | su...

Lincoln Kids! Newspaper Summer 2019 Edition  

May • June • July • It's the big summer issue! activities | camps | events | resources | health | safety kid-friendly | family-friendly | su...