No need for vegetable deception if you breastfeed?

Do you recall the recent controversy over Jessica Seinfeld’s book “Deceptively Delicious?” Some people think the book is a godsend and others (myself included) think she goes a little too far to deceive her kids all in the name of sneaking a very small amount of vegetables into their food. (You can read my thoughts here).

Ava eating carrot soup with a carrotA new study confirms what I have long suspected, breast-fed babies are more likely to like fruits and vegetables (if their mother ate them while breastfeeding) than their formula-fed counterparts. It makes sense to me. A breast-fed baby is able to experience all of the flavors of the foods that his/her mother is consuming through her breast milk. A formula-fed baby, on the other hand, is just experiencing the single flavor of the formula (until, of course, he/she starts eating solid foods).

“It’s a beautiful system,” says Mennella. “Flavors from the mother’s diet are transmitted through amniotic fluid and mother’s milk. So, a baby learns to like a food’s taste when the mother eats that food on a regular basis.”

“Babies are born with a dislike for bitter tastes,” explains Mennella. “If mothers want their babies to learn to like to eat vegetables, especially green vegetables, they need to provide them with opportunities to taste these foods.”

This makes me curious if Jessica Seinfeld breastfed her children? Anyone know?

I’m not saying there aren’t picky eaters who were breastfed, because I’m sure there are (though my kids don’t seem to fall into that category). But I am curious what your thoughts on all of this? Is breastfeeding the solution to getting our children to enjoy a variety of foods and flavors? I’d love to hear you/your children’s experiences one way or the other. Keep it respectful, please.

Yes, that is Ava at 1 1/2 yrs old enjoying some carrot soup with a carrot spoon. :)

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25 thoughts on “No need for vegetable deception if you breastfeed?

  1. I think it is probably both – Emma wasn’t given breastmilk as long as I would have liked due to all of the issues we had – We managed 5 months – but she is the fruit & veggie queen – but that’s because those are the choices we give her – we didn’t give her the option of processed snacks when she was smaller so even now if it is choice she picks an apple,banana, or cucumber over anything else. She thinks McDonalds is just an indoor playground & won’t touch french fries or chicken nuggets with a 10 foot pole!

    The pic of Ava is adorable!

  2. Well, my daughter is still being nursed (almost 3), and used to eat anything but has all of a sudden gottens super picky. I think that is just the age, though. Or, maybe she’s just getting enough salad and fruit for her tastes through the nursing. :)

    It’s an interesting theory… I’m interested what other Mamas have to say!

  3. You know what? All 3 of my girls have had a natural tendency to like vegetables and fruits. I never made the breastmilk connection but it makes a whole lot of sense.

  4. Now you’ve got me wondering if Jessica Seinfeld did breastfeed? I googled but didn’t find anything. I wonder how long the average breastfeeding time was in the study? Because I would think more long-term breastfeeders would find that their children like F&V if mama ate them. Not just because of the taste of breastmilk, but because of the food choices they saw their parents eating.

  5. This is so true! I love sour stuff – lemon water, cranberries with no sugar, grapefruit – so it was no surprise when my breastfed son took right to eating sugarless cranberry relish. Not even a grimace! (He’s 18 months, so he’s old enough for a little of the acidic stuff with no problems.)

  6. My daughter Ava is 12.5 months old and still breastfeeding and LOVES fruits and veggies. She will actually start waving in delight when she sees me steaming broccoli. I never thought it might be from breastfeeding. I have always offered her an array of fresh fruits and vegetables (trying to make all meals homemade) and I also sit down and eat the same things I’m feeding her. My mom keeps telling me that she has never seen a child eat so well (she had 4 kids). I’m just hoping it continues… :)

  7. I definitely think there is validity to the study.

    I’ve also heard the idea that breastfed babies are also more used to variety in general, since formula always tastes the same.

    Anecdotally, my baby loves spicy foods and I ate spicy stuff (though slightly milder than my usual tastes), all through pregnancy and breastfeeding (which I am still doing at 16 months’).

  8. I’d say that was true with my son, but my daughter won’t touch anything that may ever have been near a plant at one point. Except broccoli, she loooooves broccoli.

  9. I totally understand the logic behind this study – and the results make sense.
    But my kids apparently didn’t read that study – my daughter, who was breastfed is a fairly picky eater; our son, who was adopted from Guatemala and fed formula, eats anything under the sun. Go figure :-)

    Since I teach healthy cooking classes to kids, I have had a lot of concerns over Seinfeld’s book. Read the latest on my blog: http://whatscookingblog.com/2007/12/03/does-deception-belong-at-the-dinner-table/

  10. Both mine are good fruit and vege eaters. I do think that bf-ing had a part in that but I also do think it has something to do with what they see you eat and what they get offered especially as they get older.

  11. My nephew is 6 yrs old and he was breastfeed..I think for a year if I remember correctly. He is a WAY picky eater…I have never seen a kid so picky over food in my life! If he sees something that he has never tried or he think is nasty, or might be nasty…he starts gagging. Anyways, He is autistic and my sister got this book (Diseptively delicous) and its helped a lot with getting him to eat.

    Also, my 3 yr old was breastfeed for a month and then we switched to formula..and he loved vegatables..he loves food period. My 18 month old was breastfed for 9months and he too loves vegatables and well…I cant think of a food he doesnt like.

    both of my boys love food and are willing to try new things. So I have no trouble getting them to eat or need to sneak things into their food.

  12. Such a thought provoking post. I breastfed for only a year with each and both of my kids like a fair amount of veggies, though each of them have a few they won’t eat.

  13. Ahhh…so that’s why DS is a carb fiend! While he’ll try any food I offer him, he is really only smitten with bagels, crackers, pasta and rice. Throw a little spinach in the mix and he’s set. Fruit’s ok so long as it’s bananas. (Mama hangs her head in shame) Yep, that’s the diet I’ve been on since he was born. :-(

  14. I have read of this study before. Sadly in my case it is completely untrue. My kiddos were breast fed yet they hate veggies and even though I know they love fruit, it’s almost impossible to get them to eat it regularly. In fact there are very few foods my children will eat.

  15. I am still breastfeeding (my son is 15 months old) amd he loves vegetables and all foods, including spicy, but I am careful to celebrate too much because I’ve heard lots of stories of kids eating everything and then stopping at 3 or 4. I guess you just have to work through that phase if it happens.

    I like the Deceptively Delicious book. We had lots of leftover sweet potatoes (just mashed with a little butter, no sugar) from Thanksgiving and I mixed them into chili and spaghetti sauce and oatmeal. Gives a nutrtiion boost and ensured there was no waste. I am going to try the brwnie recipe with spinach tomorrow. No, it doesn’t make brownies “healthy” but makes them a healthier treat.

    Jessica makes a point to say that you present vegetables in their natural form as well and work to get kids to try them, but they purees will get the nutrients into your kids without the battle. She talks about how once the battle stopped, her kids actually started trying more things.

    I think too often that parents just give up and let kids eat junk when they refuse to eat healthier foods. The book is giving an alternative to giving up so that mom can relax, mealtime is more peaceful and nutritious and mom can get a grip so that she can continue to work in more gentle ways of getting kids to eat vegetables.

    Again, my son loves vegetables and I hope it continues, but for moms battling it out at mealtime, DD is a gentle alternative to giving up.

  16. I was unable to breastfeed either of my children. They both love vegetables and prefer them to fruit.

    Regarding the study- The value of N in this study is only 45, that’s an extremely low sample size to generalize conclusions beyond the specific 45 babies studied.

  17. With much respect, I have to wonder about these findings based on the fact that as a daycare provider who has had a number of both breastfed and formula fed children in the last 7 years… I can’t say that my formula fed kiddos have been any less willing to eat their vegetables. Actually with a couple I’ve had, it was the exact opposite. I’m not saying that bf babies aren’t more likely to be excepting of vegetables, but I think that kids are kids and even bf kiddos are going to have their likes and dislikes. Of course, I’m not a scientist who’s done research,lol… I’m just a daycare provider! :) I just have to wonder if it really makes that much of a difference since there are so many formula fed babies. Very interesting topic!:)

  18. I, too, breastfed my daughter for a year. She used to love vegetables, but now will hardly touch them. I ate plenty of vegetables while nursing, and still offer them to her, but they hardly ever get eaten.

    I’m sure breastfeeding helps, but it might not get them through toddler pickiness.

  19. Interesting responses so far – especially pointing out the small size of the study.

    You know, it sure does seem logical that BFing could help since it introduces those flavors — but I wonder if we’re also seeing a relationship between being a mom who chooses to BF and being a mom who cares about solids nutrition as well? It sounds like a lot of us feel strongly about offering healthy choices, letting our kiddos see US choosing to eat F&V, etc. So while BFing might start them off right, the lifestyle we’ve chosen (which includes healthy eating in general) is also a factor.

    And all that said – my 18-months-BFed son who happily ate every single F&V I offered in our homemade-baby-food stage has now hit a toddler pickiness stage (at 22 months) where green veggies hit the floor almost instantly. :-) So who knows!

  20. I think it is a combination of nurture and nature. We are really militant on introducing and preparing vegetables to our children as well as breastfeeding. I do not think including veggies in a recipe is bad per day the deception I agree is not my style. I received the book to review and told Becca that there was squash in her cupcakes, she thought it was cool. It is all how it is presented and the exposure.

  21. My first was breastfed.. he can be picky but he will go for raw fruits and veggies anytime…

    my second who was only breastfed 4 weeks due to a breast problem i had that was not fixable.. eats anything you put in front of him…

    I would rather put things in front of them and hope they eat it then try to always hide it.. otherwise how will they be when they are older?? will they eat those foods that were hidden when they were a child…??

  22. I nursed my baby for 8 months, and I eat EVERYTHING. She is 9 months now, used to eat everything under the sun, from green beans to chickpeas to fish. The last week or so she won’t eat any vegetable. Nuthin. She’ll only eat bread and yogurt. I suppose she’ll outgrow it and go back to her veggie-lovin’ days? (I hope!)

  23. Pingback: Crunchy Domestic Goddess » Americans STILL Aren’t Eating Their Veggies

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