Dinner can turn into a battlefield when you ask your child to finish the vegetables. Parents everywhere are struggling to get their kids to eat more vegetables, but many aren’t sure how to make it work. Now, a new study finds that more than half of parents (55 percent) also want their kids to enjoy plant-based protein like tofu, seitan, legumes, or any form, starting from an early age, according to research from baby food brand Gerber.
The survey included the opinions of 2,000 new parents to determine their greatest struggle with their children’s selective eating habits, and how they hoped to introduce healthy food to their children. The survey found that more than half of them have children with selective eating habits that are resistant to trying new foods, and an even larger 83% of parents are concerned about providing adequate nutrients to their children. The survey also found that two out of three parents hope their children will explore different foods including plant-based proteins.
“We hear from parents that they want more vegetarian options that align with their nutritional values,” said Tarun Malkani, Gerber’s president and CEO, in a statement. “That’s why we want to reassure parents that there are more nutritious and growth-friendly options available so that they can feed their children a varied diet.”
Parents’ primary struggles come from a lack of information. The survey reported that 55 percent of parents find it difficult to shop for foods that are delicious, tasty and nutritious at the same time. Nearly 54 percent of participating parents admitted they didn’t know much about plant foods. The Gerber survey aims to understand what parents need to feel confident while introducing healthy foods to their children.
“It can take up to 10 times for a child to accept a new food — so don’t give up,” Whitney Casares, PhD, consultant pediatrician to Gerber and fellow at the American Academy of Pediatrics, said in a statement. “For parents looking to incorporate plant-based options, I recommend ‘Feed the Baby the Rainbow’ from a variety of foods.”
What do children want to eat?
Gerber’s study examined how parents and children respond to dietary changes and the introduction of healthy foods. Parents responded that lack of information (45 percent), children’s preferences (28 percent), and cost (22 percent) were the most pressing barriers to introducing new foods.
The Gerber study went as far as to find out which foods are children’s favorites. According to parents, their children’s favorite foods are strawberries (30 percent) and bananas (29 percent). Parents also noted that beans (22 percent), peas (21 percent), and corn (20 percent) received the most resistance from their children.
The survey found that 55% of parents hope their children follow the same diet as they do. Parents and children shared meals including plant-based protein (39 percent), grains and legumes (36 percent), bread (35 percent), citrus fruits (33 percent), and spiced meals (32 percent) together.
Gerber looks forward to vegan baby food
In April of this year, Gerber announced that it had developed a vegan baby food designed to provide the right nutrients for babies without animal ingredients. Hoping to give vegan parents a sigh of relief, Choosing a Vegan is geared towards making vegan food appetizing for young children. Also, vegan foods are affordable and completely carbon-free as certified by the Carbon Trust. Nearly 81 percent of families with children purchase plant-based protein, indicating an increased demand for family-oriented plant-based solutions.
Hear from parents [that] They wanted more plant-based protein options that matched their nutritional and climate values, said Tarun Malkani, Gerber’s president and CEO at the time. “Gerber Plant-tastic delivers stage-based nutrition across key stages from organic pouches, snacks and meals to young children.”
Some parents feel skeptical about relying on plant foods to provide their children with essential nutrients. But one study released in May debunked the myth that plant foods are not enough. The study, conducted by St. Michael’s Hospital researchers, found that vegetarian children are just as healthy as meat eaters. Posted in PediatricsThe study revealed that both groups of children showed similar levels of body mass index (BMI), height, iron, vitamin D, and cholesterol levels.
“Over the past 20 years, we have seen an increase in the popularity of plant-based diets and a changing food environment with greater access to plant-based alternatives, however, we have not seen research on the nutritional outcomes of children following plant-based diets in Canada,” said the study’s lead author and pediatrician. Dr. Jonathan Maguire in a statement.
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