Kids are not likely to make balanced choices on their own, so giving them too much of a favorite entree will keep them from trying other things.
If you want your preschooler to eat more fruits and vegetables, give them smaller portions -- of the main dish, that is.
Researchers at The Pennsylvania State University in University Park found that giving preschool children smaller portions of the entrée at the lunch meal resulted in greater consumption of fruit and vegetables and a smaller intake of calories.
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Seventeen kids in a Pennsylvania preschool were served six different variations of the same meal one day a week for lunch. The main dish was macaroni and cheese, and the amount served varied from less than half a cup to more than a cup and a half. The lunch menu also included green beans, unsweetened applesauce, a whole grain roll, and milk.
When the children ate all of the smallest portion of macaroni and cheese, they ate nearly half of the other foods served, including fruits and vegetables. However, when the kids were served the largest portion of mac and cheese, they only ate about a fourth of the side dishes.
The number of calories the kids consumed for lunch varied with the size of the main dish as well. When served the largest portion of the entrée, they ate an average of 506 calories. With the smallest portion, they consumed 315 calories.