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Watching Cooking Shows Could Help Kids Eat Healthier

A new study points to the easiest way to help kids eat healthier.

Do you like watching cooking shows? If so, invite your kids to watch an episode with you.

A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior reported that kids who watched a cooking show featuring healthy food were 2.7 times more likely to make healthy food choices vs. children who watched a show that featured unhealthy food.

In this study, 125 children watched a 10-minute public-television cooking program designed for children. Then, the children were given a snack as a “reward” for participating in the study. The result: Children in the study who watched the cooking show about healthy food were significantly more likely to choose one of the healthy snack options (an apple or a few pieces of cucumber) than the unhealthy snack options (a handful of chips or salted mini-pretzels).

This study makes a parent pause to think about how TV programs impact their child’s daily food choices. Also, cooking has been shown to help adults and children have a more positive and mindful relationship with food.

Parent Tip

  • Pick a cooking episode to watch together.
  • Invite your child to cook as a "celebrity chef."
  • Your child can also be a celebrity judge, giving their feedback on a dish you created. Have them comment on the taste, texture, presentation, etc.
  • Talk about mindful eating—tasting, savoring and being really present when they eat. Mindful eating has been shown to help kids have a better relationship with food.
  • Verbalize the benefits of eating healthy—a strong body, great taste, helps your body move, etc.

The next time your child grabs their iPad or flips on the TV, consider steering them toward a cooking show.

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Frans Folkvord, Doeschka Anschütz, Marieke Geurts. Watching TV Cooking Programs: Effects on Actual Food Intake Among Children. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.jneb.2019.09.016

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