Every parent’s dream is that toddlers eat broccoli, kale and spinach without fuss and fuss. But how to increase the chance of success?
Now Swedish and American researchers believe they have an answer for you.
They researched over 200 babies from the age of 4-6 months to 12-18 months. The babies were divided into two groups. The groups got theirs diet.
After a year, there was a marked difference in the eating habits of the children.
The babies in one group were put on the Nordic diet.
– This is the first study that examines the Nordic diet in infants, says the project’s lead researcher, Ulrica Johansson at the University of Umeå. She has a doctorate in pediatrics and is a diet expert.
The diet is based on traditions from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Greenland. It is characterized by foods low in protein.
In the study, the babies received little exotic fruit and vegetables, but rather what grows locally. Like pears, apples, plums, berries and root vegetables.
They also received homemade baby food with a low protein content. Breast milk or infant formula was added.
Protein was replaced by carbohydrate from vegetables, not grains. They also got some more fat from rapeseed oil.
It turned out that these children ate far more vegetables after the age of one: twice as much.
Regular baby food
The other group ate regular Swedish baby food. As porridge and ready-made baby dinners from glass and bag: Spaghetti and meat sauce, chicken and couscous and the like. They got a good deal more protein.
By the time the children were one and a half years old, they had reduced their intake of vegetables by 36 percent.
– We did not think there would be such big differences between the groups, Johansson says to NRK.
Not negative with little protein
The children on the Nordic diet ended up eating about as many calories as the others. Protein intake was lower after the age of one, but within the recommendations.
The researchers found no adverse effects of a protein-reduced diet. Neither on breastfeeding, iron status or growth.
The parents of these babies received support along the way.
– Some went all over Nordic food for the whole family, says Johansson.
Lower risk of obesity
What we eat in our first two years of life can mean a lot to health later in life, we must believe the researcher.
– Children are sensitive to too high a protein intake in the first two years of life. It can have negative effects on increased BMI and later risk of obesity.
According to her, a Nordic diet can probably reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases and obesity. And make children less picky about healthy foods, such as vegetables.
In the future, the researchers will follow up the children to get more answers.
The study was presented at an annual conference last week. It has not yet been peer-reviewed, as the preliminary findings were presented before the actual publication.
PS By the way, the Nordic diet received a lot of attention earlier this year, when the website US News named it the tenth best in the world.