Kids’ summer salad problem solved with SEE & EAT solution
26 July 2023
Parents struggling to get their youngsters to eat their greens at home may have been handed a vital lifeline this summer holidays.
The SEE & EAT books, launched by a team at the University of Reading, were created to encourage children to eat healthier.
Research led by Professor Carmel Houston-Price has shown that pre-schoolers are more likely to eat vegetables at mealtimes if they are already familiar with what the vegetable looks like and where it comes from.
The more familiar a child is with food before it appears on their plate, the better, and this is especially true for vegetables they don’t like or haven’t tried before.
Professor Houston-Price said: “We know family mealtimes can be difficult and this becomes even more stressful if children refuse to eat fruit and vegetables. We have an answer with our SEE & EAT books and resources - the idea is to spend a bit of time helping children to SEE the new food and become familiar with what it is so that when they are later given the opportunity, they will be happy to EAT it.
“Our studies show that after two weeks of looking at a SEE & EAT book for just a few minutes every day, preschool children are more willing to taste a vegetable they wouldn’t eat before, they eat more of the vegetable and they are more likely to say that they like it. Parents tell us they find it easier and more enjoyable to give their child vegetables at mealtimes, too.
SEE & EAT books help children to get to know their vegetables by showing each food’s journey ‘from farm to fork.’ 19 SEE & EAT paperback books each focusing on a different vegetable are now available to buy from Amazon. They are also available as ebooks that can be read on smart devices.
One parent, who left a review on Amazon, said: “This book is such a great resource for getting children to eat more vegetables. It has clear instructions on how to use the book but also has fun colourful pictures that my child likes to look at on his own. I have already seen an increase in his interest and consumption of vegetables. I will definitely be buying some of the other vegetable books too.”
Another parent, named Nicola, said: “My son never likes tomatoes, so we chose the tomato book. Before we looked at the book, he wouldn’t even put them near his mouth, but once we’d looked at the book he recognised what they were and would ask to try tomatoes.”
A decade of development
The new series of paperback books was launched in May 2023 following the earlier launch of SEE & EAT ebooks and other online activities for families in 2022. SEE & EAT resources are based on more than 15 years of research into ways to support children’s health eating at the University of Reading. The project was funded by EIT Food, the innovation community on the food of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the EU, under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.
All the SEE & EAT resources and activities including ebooks, meal planners, shopping lists, and numerous vegetable games are available at seeandeat.org.