You are what you eat. We’ve all heard the old adage, but have you ever stopped to think just how true it is? Simply put, healthy eating is the key to wellbeing. Want your child to eat healthy? Recent studies show you need to start early—really early!
Research shows that what a woman eats during pregnancy not only nourishes her baby in the womb, but may also shape her child’s food preferences later in life.
In the womb, your growing baby is surrounded by amniotic fluid and they ingest several ounces of this fluid daily.
Here’s the really interesting part: amniotic fluid is actually flavored by the foods and beverages you eat while you’re pregnant.
Julie Mennella researches the development of food and flavor preferences at infancy at the Monell Chemical Senses Center. Her work has been published in the journal Pediatrics. She says, “Things like vanilla, carrot, garlic, anise, mint—these are some of the flavors that have been shown to be transmitted to amniotic fluid or mother’s milk.” In fact, Mennella says there isn’t a single flavor they have found that doesn’t show up in utero.
This makes a lot of evolutionary sense, says Mennella. Since mothers tend to feed their children what they eat themselves, it’s nature’s way of introducing babies to the foods and flavors they are likely to encounter in their culture.
“Each individual baby is having their own unique experience, it’s changing from hour to hour, from day to day, from month to month,” says Mennella. “As a stimulus it’s providing so much information to that baby about who they are as a family and what are the foods their family enjoys and appreciates.”
Still, no matter how much you eat foods like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, there’s no guarantee your child will like them. They may never like them! But as long as we as parents keep exposing our children to healthy foods, we increase their chances of eventually liking them! And who knows, they may even learn to love them.
Do your children eat their fruits and veggies?