A new study out of Germany found that spending ten more minutes at the dinner table allows children to eat 50% more fruits and vegetables. The extra time led to an average of seven extra pieces of fruits and vegetables being consumed, the equivalent of one medium apple, or 2/3 cup.
The study looked at fifty families with the children between between 6 and 11 years old. The families ate two meals together in a controlled room, one 20-minutes long, the other 30-minutes. The participants were unaware of the specific intent of the study and were told only when the researchers would bring dessert, which made the time difference less noticeable. Each family had a typical German dinner with bite-sized pieces of vegetables and fruit and dessert. The only difference between the two lab meals was the duration.
The study found that mealtime duration had a strongest effect on healthy nutrition. Although bite-size portions may have made the fruits and veggies easier to eat, time was the key factor. This study also shows that kids are happy to eat fruits and vegetables given enough time.
Prioritizing an extended family time around the dinner table will not only have a positive nutritional impact, but also help with brain and body development and mental health of the whole family. Here are some ways to enliven and lengthen mealtimes:
* Turn off TV
* Play games
* Let antsy kids have “fidget” toys at the table
* Allow kids to help with cooking, serving, and clean-up
* Prepare vegetables in a way your child will like.
* And don’t withhold dessert if they resist the healthful stuff. This makes vegetables less desirable and dessert more so
* Create an enjoyable, relaxing and playful dinner atmosphere
Read more (via The Washington Post)