I just came across this article in the Toronto Star about a study that took place at a preschool in Pennsylvania. The researchers were trying to gauge whether the amount of healthy side-dishes (green beans and apple sauce) consumed by children at lunchtime would change based the size of the main course served (macaroni and cheese). The researchers found that the bigger the portion of mac and cheese, the less of the fruit and veggies the children ate. When the mac and cheese portion was at its smallest, the side dish consumption was the highest.
Duh, really? I think this study is absolutely well intended – but wouldn’t you be surprised if the results were anything other than that? So now that we’ve gotten the obvious out of the way, what can we learn here? One observation I have (well, not only me – I can’t take credit for discovering this) is that we North Americans serve and eat main course portions that are far too big in the first place. Most of us could definitely scale back on the mains and bump up the size of the supporting act. Another strategy for healthier eating is to include vegetables whenever possible. If that mac and cheese that was served was made with whole grain pasta, organic cheese and pureed butternut squash, then vegetables play an even bigger role in the meal and the main course itself is healthier than a typicle macaroni and cheese. Soup, stews spaghetti, chili, casseroles, sandwiches, you name it – can all contain vegetables and be served with fruits and vegetables on the side! Win win.