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expectingLast week, we gave you some tips on helping tame your child’s sweet-tooth, but did you know that your child’s sweet-tooth may have started in the womb?

According to a 2012 French study, a child’s taste preferences may be predicted by their mother’s dietary choices, especially those during pregnancy.

Tests showed that just three hours after birth most babies who had been exposed to aniseed in the womb would lean towards a swab containing the odour, while those who had not would either pull a disgusted face and turn away or not react at all.

Another experiment in which a swab of aniseed and a “control” swab of another aroma were placed on either side of the babies’ heads showed that the aniseed-exposed group leant overwhelmingly towards the scent while the other babies showed no preference.

The test was carried out hours after birth and repeated four days later, with the same results.

Our sense of smell directly influences the way we taste our food, [study author] Dr [Benoist] Schaal explained.

Consequently, suggested Dr. Schaal, healthful eating during pregnancy and lactation may help “transfer a taste for healthy foods to their children.”

If you enjoy sugary foods during pregnancy, your child may enjoy it for a whole lifetime – an unfortunate problem in this age of increased obesity, diabetes and a host of other chronic diseases spurred by unhealthful habits.

But it’s never too late to get things going in a better direction!

  1. Encourage your children to eat naturally sweet foods such as whole fruit instead of sugary processed foods or juice.
  2. Promote moderation. Very few children will refuse all sugary items, but don’t let your child be one of the many who go overboard and develop an unhealthy devotion to candy and soda. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin found that children who were unable to control their sugary desires were more likely to become obese, handle stress poorly and perform worse at school.
  3. Practice positive habits – a/k/a lead by example. As children grow up, they will continue to follow your lead. Make healthful eating your family norm – a diet based on whole foods, including whole grains, rich in fresh fruit and veg, low in added sugars.

For more tips on teaching kids how to eat right, check out Dr. Dina Rose’s excellent blog It’s Not About Nutrition.

Image by Phalinn Ooi, via Flickr

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