If your child’s a picky eater, boost his or her appetite by introducing more color to dinners and strategically plating meals.
Those are the conclusions of a new study published in the January issue of Acta Paediatrica reporting that children found food plates with seven different items and six different colors more appealing and appetizing.
"What kids find visually appealing is very different than what appeals to their parents," said Brian Wansink, a marketing professor at Cornell University.
While the 23 preteen participants may have found a kaleidoscopic plate more appetizing, for instance, the 46 adults in the survey tended to prefer minimalist plates three items, and three colors, researchers said.
In the study, participants were presented with 48 combinations of food on plates.
Researchers also found that children expressed a preference in food plating, favoring dishes in which the main component was placed in the lower segment of the plate in a fun, figurative design or pattern, while adults preferred their main component in the center of the plate.
Meanwhile, the Mayo Clinic also offers a slew of advice on how to handle a picky eater, including tips such as engaging kids at the grocery store and the kitchen and allowing them to pick their fruit and wash the vegetables.
The tip list also suggests cutting foods into different shapes using cookie cutters and serving a variety of brightly colored foods, as well as minimizing distractions during meal times so they can focus on eating.
Experts say another common mistake parents make when coaxing their children to clean their plates is to withhold dessert, a message that implies that dessert is the best part of the meal. Instead, they advise limiting dessert to once or twice a week and offering fruit as the post-meal snack.