Letter: Educate young taste buds

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The Independent Online
Sir: I read with interest the debate on children eating their greens ("Eat those greens", 24 January; letters, 23, 24, 27 January). I am a nutritionist with two children aged seven and four. I succeeded in both cases, and this is how I think it worked.

They never touched a jar of baby food. From breast-feeding they were weaned on simple, home-made foods - pureed apple, carrot or rice - then the same food as we ate. All meals eaten at home are a family occasion.

Nowadays they eat most vegetables and fruits. Sometimes they go off one or another for a time, and we don't insist. We had a few very short-lived battles in the early days, solved by making them eat the vegetable first before moving on to the rest of the meal. There was no question of disguising taste - this does not solve the problem. We were absolutely consistent and the battles didn't last. They never starved themselves in retaliation, either.

Food and drinks aimed at children are very high in sugar, salt, flavour enhancers etc, and dull their taste buds. Thereafter children enjoy only more of the same. The sad results are to be seen in menus for children in restaurants. Why not simply share an adult main course? Taste buds deserve education, as does the ear for music or the eye for art, and perhaps more so because long-term health depends on it.

Dr LAURENCE VILLARD

Oxford

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