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Every Year, Millions Of Children Are Forced To Eat Their Vegetables - It's Time To Stop

Every Year, Millions Of Children Are Forced To Eat Their Vegetables - It's Time To Stop

It's no secret, children are not really fond of vegetables! From an early age, as soon as they have to submit to dietary diversification, parents try as best they can to enforce a diet including vegetables. So where does this rejection of food yet essential to the proper functioning of the human body come from?

The dislike of children for vegetables would be above all a natural reflex! Indeed, human beings are genetically programmed not to be attracted to vegetables during their first months of life and the acidity and bitterness that can be found in certain foods and especially vegetables, are in fact responsible party. This aversion is also explained by a mechanism of natural human self-defense to protect oneself from the dangers that can cause the ingestion of potentially dangerous foods.

A scientist relies on a coffee study to explain the aversion to vegetables
Russell Keast, Professor of Sensory and Food Science and Director of the Center for Sensory Science at Deakin University, says that children's or even adults' aversion to vegetables is linked to natural protective reactions rooted in human DNA .

He supports his theory with a study he conducted on coffee that has a bitter taste. In other words, because of the evolution of the human species, it has learned that it is extremely important not to consume anything potentially dangerous and the bitterness itself is one these warning signals; the cognitive system identifies tens of thousands of compounds, and all he suggests is that the bitter product may contain something that causes damage, resulting in the rejection of certain foods with a bitter taste including some vegetables ..

Natural protective responses
He supports his theory by arguing that plant foods containing compounds that can be harmful, trigger natural protective responses rooted in our DNA to certain bitter foods, such as Brussels sprouts or broccoli. But this may vary with people and their sensitivity to bitterness because they have bitter taste receptors that react to a specific compound in broccoli. While other people do not have this receptor and, therefore, do not feel the bitterness of broccoli.

He even adds that in our time we have available foods developed to our taste, so the human species no longer needs these primary responses, but they are rooted in DNA; it will take thousands of years to evolve.

According to him, the more the human being will develop his attraction for certain foods including those presenting with bitterness, as certain vegetables, the more his sensory system will get accustomed to it and integrate it gradually to his daily diet.

How to integrate vegetables into the children's diet without forcing them?
Obviously, the more the parents will encourage their child (ren) whose taste system is not yet functional, to consume vegetables at any cost, the less they will exercise there.

A study examining the prevalence of forced consumption and its role in the subsequent rejection of food highlights the harmfulness of forcing children or adolescents to consume food they do not want. 70% of respondents reported having used forced food during their childhood and most had negative consequences on their behavior, such as feelings of anger, fear, disgust, confusion and humiliation as well as feelings helplessness and lack of mastery.

The best way to proceed if we follow Russell Keast's theory is, first of all, to opt for the distribution of responsibilities in the area of nutrition, which involves allowing the child to choose among the vegetables what he will eat. and in what quantity; until he registers this model and integrates it fully into his eating behavior. Then, vary his diet by including not only vegetables, but also foods he likes.

It is also important to lead by example by eating the same foods during the same meals, without omitting to involve them in preparing them.
Millions Of Children Are Forced To Eat Their Vegetables - It's Time To Stop