Is Variety the Spice of Life?Mar 01, 2022
Imagine two dessert tables, each with THREE pies: one table has three apple pies, and the other has three different kinds of pie. From which table will you eat more pie?!
Most likely, it's going to be the one with different kinds of pie! Why? Because we love variety: variety and choice in food usually means eating MORE of that food…just think about buffets.
Take advantage of this information to encourage more healthy eating: stock up on a WIDE variety of healthy foods, foods like different fruits, a variety of vegetables, and different nuts or seeds.
On the other hand, LIMIT the variety of junk foods/drinks you buy and keep at home: skip the giant variety pack of chips, and the multi-pack of cookies, even if it’s a “good deal”. Instead, keep just one kind of dessert in the house, or one type of chips.
Offering more variety of healthy food is a great start, but it doesn’t mean kids will eat it, right? To get kids (and adults) to expand the food and flavors they like, try these tips:
- Involve kids in planning or shopping: have them choose a new fruit, or vegetable or a whole new dish to try once a week.
- Food Adventure: ask kids to choose any area of the country or another country (take a location cue from school lessons, a movie or even a video game). Find out what foods and dishes are common there and choose one to try as a family.
- One thing at a time: a whole entire meal with all new flavors probably will not go over well. Introduce just one food at a time and offer along with familiar foods.
- Be patient: remember it will probably take multiple tries for kids to like a new food or flavor, especially if it’s something bitter-tasting like a new vegetable.
Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month?
Check out ways to “celebrate a world of flavor” and ideas from different cuisines to add variety: https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month/toolkit
by Rana Parker, MPH, RDN
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