Teach Healthy Eating at Home

How can you get kids to eat what you want them to -- no more, no less? We dropped in at dinnertime to see how a top nutrition expert handles it with his young daughters.

Family of Foodies

Whenever I take out my good china, I think of Brian Wansink, Ph.D. Three years ago, I tagged along on some research he was doing at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, to see whether women would eat more lunch if it were served on a fancy plate rather than on a cheap plain one. I joked that if his theory panned out (it did), I should put all of my daughter's vegetables on Lenox. But Dr. Wansink, author of more than 300 research papers and the best seller Mindless Eating, takes eating behavior very seriously. "I think children are influenced by how their food is presented just as much as adults are," he said. "I just don't have the studies to support it yet."

Now, after doing research in preschools and summer camps, he has come up with a bunch of subtle ways to get kids to eat more healthy foods and fewer junky ones -- which is one of the keys to preventing childhood obesity. He invited me back to hear all the details, this time over dinner at his home with his wife, Jennifer, and their two girls, Audrey, 4, and Valerie, 18 months at the time of my visit. He also slipped in the fact that Jennifer has a culinary degree (from Le Cordon Bleu, the famous French cooking school, no less). Dinner promised to be delicious as well as informative.

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