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Do you want your children to try new foods? Try keeping them in the kitchen.

With hot stoves, boiling water and sharp knives at hand, it is understandable that parents don’t want children in the kitchen when they’re making dinner. But studies suggest that involving children in meal preparation is an important first step in getting them to try new foods.

Researchers at Teachers College at Columbia University studied how cooking with a child affects the child’s eating habits. In one study, nearly 600 children from kindergarten to sixth grade took part in a nutrition curriculum intended to get them to eat more vegetables and whole grains. Some children, in addition to having lessons about healthful eating, took part in cooking workshops. The researchers found that children who had cooked their own foods were more likely to eat those foods in the cafeteria, and even ask for seconds, than children who had not had the cooking class.

When children are involved in meal preparation, “they come to at least try the food,” said Isobel Contento, professor of nutrition education at Teachers College and a co-author of the study. “Kids don’t usually like radishes, but we found that if kids cut up radishes and put them in the salad, they love the radishes.”

The article, "6 Food Mistakes Parents Make” appeared in the September 14, 2008 edition of the New York Times:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/15/health/healthspecial2/15eat.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=health

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