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Early Exposure

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Making future veggie lovers

It’s an age old struggle, how do you get your children to eat their vegetables? Frequently turned off by their bitter undertones, children tend to avoid foods like broccoli and spinach. Unfortunately, nearly 1 in 4 American children don’t even eat one vegetable a day, meaning at least a quarter of US kids eat diets that are nutritionally inadequate. A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that the foods that breastfeeding moms eat play a role in a child’s acceptance of vegetables as they are introduced to new foods.

In this study, 97 mom and infant pairs were assigned to one of five groups where moms drank juice (carrot, celery, beet, vegetable) for four weeks beginning when babies were 2 weeks, 1.5 months or 2.5 months old. The last two groups were split between juice or water for 3 months starting at 2 weeks old. At about 8 months of age, all infants were observed when offered plain, carrot or broccoli flavored cereals. The researchers found that all infants exposed to carrot juice, chose carrot-flavored cereal over unfamiliar broccoli. Interestingly, infants exposed to “carrot flavored” breastmilk at 2 weeks old ate the carrot cereal with more enthusiasm. In this case a little bit of exposure went a long way!

Breastmilk has been called liquid gold, and now it quite literally may be the key to getting your children to accept new foods like vegetables that they otherwise may be predisposed to avoid. Less picky eaters are more likely only if vegetables are part of the mother’s diet during lactation, making a post-natal diet oh so important.

Bonus: There are many benefits of breastfeeding for your little one and for you! In addition to helping you return to your pre-pregnancy weight quickly, one study found that women who breastfeed are less likely to suffer from hypertension after they reach menopause. In another study, it was observed that women who breastfed for at least six months had about half the risk of type 2 diabetes than those who didn’t.

Published May 1, 2018

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