I’m rereading “Disease-Proof Your Child” and was struck by the section titled, “Food Preferences are Formed by One’s Food Environment.” Says Dr. Fuhrman, “Positive reinforcement, praise, and demonstration of family taste preference (showing how much you like it over and over) works better than forcing the child to eat it. […] The avoidance of fruits and vegetables seen in older children, adolescents, and adults originates in life experiences between six months and three years of age. Early and repeated exposure to a variety of fruits and vegetables has [been] shown to increase liking for them later.”
Although the section is about eating produce, I think it’s just as important to apply it to what they play with; toy kitchens and play food abound in households regardless of gender. We were recently given a bunch of play food by a neighbor, and as grateful as I was for it, I did tell my daughter the plastic ground beef patty was a granola cookie, and I may have “lost” some of the super-unhealthy play foods (ice cream sandwiches?).
The toys pictured above were some of the girls’ Christmas gifts. They are all from IKEA, and they have been very popular with our daughters. I love that my oldest can correctly identify so many fruits and vegetables and that they both see us eating them all the time. Here’s my oldest “making a salad” with the lettuce–the leaves are attached with Velcro and peel off.