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When at First You Don’t Succeed, Try Again . . . and Again

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Persistence pays off when fostering a new generation of healthy eaters. A paper published by pediatric researchers from the University of Buffalo in the December 2017 edition of Obesity Reviews shows that repeatedly exposing infants and children to healthy foods, even when they snub their noses at them at first, is key to promoting healthy eating behaviors over the long term. This don’t-give-up attitude is particularly effective at getting little mouths to eat a greater variety of fruits and vegetables. After several meals that repeatedly offer these foods, kids often end up liking them, the study’s authors say.

That could end up being good news for children’s psyches. In a study published in December 2017 BMC Public Health, healthy eating—more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish, and less sweet, fatty processed food—was associated with improved self-esteem and fewer emotional problems in children aged 2–9 years old. The association was independent of socioeconomic status and body weight.

No word yet on whether kids will ever crave Brussels sprouts.

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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