It’s an all too common struggle; parents try anything to get their kid to eat their veggies. Although a baby’s time in the womb shapes their palate, some foods are bound to get snubbed. Instead of coaxing a growing youth to give lima beans, broccoli, or peas a chance, a pair of professors figured out a clever hack. There is a way to get kids to want to eat those veggies on the end of their fork. Parents can take the headache out of meal times and start rejoicing now.
Less is More
Adults aren’t the only ones who recognize scarcity. Kids do too. When co-parents and Kellogg School professors, Michal Maimaran and Yuval Salant ordered their kids some avocado rolls at a Japanese restaurant, they made a startling discovery. The kids were happy to take out the avocado out of their sushi, and they were eating it. To test out a hunch, the parents ordered a plate of avocado; the kids ate it faster than an ice cream sundae.
Salant and Maimaran later conducted experiments at a nursery school, focusing on whether the availability of veggies on a kid’s plate was a motivating factor. Working with kids aged four and five, they exposed the children to toys, healthy snacks, and allowed them to play or eat to their heart’s content. When the kids noticed there was less of something, they wanted that particular thing most. Maimaran and Salant’s study was published in the January 2019, Volume 14, No. 1 issue of the Judgment and Decision Making journal.
Mind Over Munchies
Human psychology was indeed at work, as kids would rate a limited amount of vegetables with a more favorable rating than if they were unlimited. The power of FOMO influences kids. Young ones want to try new things, especially if there is not very much to go around. So, “If you want them to eat fruits or vegetables, just offer less of it.” according to Professor Michal Maimaran.
Eating healthy is a big deal because many kids and adults aren’t eating enough servings of fruits and vegetables. The recommended amount of fruits and vegetables for children is three servings a day, so it’s understandable why parents want kids to clean their plate. Instead of pleading, threatening, or bribing kids to eat their vegetables, using a limited-availability strategy makes things easy. Professor Yuval Salant adopted this concept for his kids, and it has been an enormous success.
A Forkful Solution
Parents have had their share of war stories about how they get their kids to eat their veggies. Serving kids whole vegetables, creative food arrangements, and striking bargaining deals have all been used. Discovering a simple hack to get kids to eat their veggies without fuss certainly had the Internet abuzz. One website, Curiosity, showed that 721 people loved an article sharing a condensed version of the professors’ findings. On the Kellogg School of Business Twitter feed, one person retweeted a promoted post about getting kids to eat vegetables, and four people gave it a heart.
The mix of responses makes sense, as some parents may have skepticism or lukewarm feelings about what will get their kids to eat their leafy greens. Even social media’s influence has been investigated by interested parties to see if it had enough sway over kid’s dietary choices. Sorry parents, but even a UK study involving two vetted YouTube stars wasn’t enough to get kids to pile more healthy foods on their plate. Using the approach of offering limited-availability of veggies is a more surefire method that has been scientifically tested and proven successful. Next time dinner calls, instead of offering kids more veggies than they can handle, get kids to eat healthy with artificial scarcity.
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