So, why is the United States getting more obese, when we are fortunate enough to live in a land where fresh fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, and quality proteins are widely available?
The answer may lie in a key period of an individual’s development when we can influence their lifelong acceptance of a healthy diet. This period includes a window of opportunity to “flavor train,” creating a preference for nutrient-rich vegetables before cravings for chicken nuggets kick in!
Studies indicate this “flavor training” window lies within the first 1,000 days of life, between 4 and 7 months. That said, this is a time when infants appear to be receptive to almost anything which, if introduced in the appropriate way, appears to have a significant impact on molding preferences into childhood and even into adulthood.
From 4 to 5 months, a taste is all that’s required, a dab on the lips with a clean finger or teaspoon, as this is not about providing nutrition. However, from five months with the start of complementary feeding, it’s important to provide veggie-forward, nutrient-dense meals.
Now, flavor training is a super exciting opportunity when parents can really make a difference in setting healthy trajectories, without the fear and stress of meeting nutritional demands. Thus, it presents an opportunity where parents can establish healthy eating habits and the lifelong benefits these bring.