Exposure + Education = Willingness to try something new
When was the last time you tried a new food? Did you like it the first time you tried it? It wouldn’t be surprising if the answer was “no”. Now, think about a preschooler or young child. How many times did you have to offer new foods to them before they liked it? It is very common that parents today only offer a ‘new’ food once or twice before reverting back to the generally accepted foods of the household. While patience may not always be a virtue, it is one that has been proven over time.
Ten is the number of exposures of a new food, mooli (white radish), to preschoolers that it took to increase the likelihood that they would eat about 10 grams (or close to 2.5 teaspoons). In a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, mooli was offered once a week for ten weeks to a group of preschoolers that were split into multiple groups for comparison: a taste exposure group, nutrition education group and a combined group. The taste exposure group yielded the highest likelihood of consumption, even over that of the nutrition education plus taste exposure group. And while the results of the taste exposure group only yielded approximately 5% of a child’s recommended daily produce intake that day, it is definitely a success as an appreciation for a new food was developed in the process.
Repeated taste exposure is key, but there is also value in nutrition education, especially at a young age. The more children can be involved with food choices, preparation and simply understanding how a food can benefit the body is so helpful. From tracking the colors of the rainbow with snacks, to fun food facts, to creating personalized toast recipes, we are here for it all.
So, for all of the parents out there that are riding the “my kid won’t try anything” bus, be confident in the trial and error process and keep with it as it really does take many forms of exposure to get a child to try new things. While it may seem wasteful while in the process, the more we can expose new foods often, especially to younger children, the bigger the return on investment it is for the future.
Hey, maybe you as the parent may even find something new to try, like mooli!
Published October 2020