Reporting Tracy Kornet
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FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – For many families, the biggest food fight is the one that happens each night at the dinner table.
You want your kids to eat peas and carrots. They consider French fries a vegetable.
But take heart, there’s help. Some food scientists have found ways to trick your kids into eating better.
Researchers at Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab have done a variety of studies about the psychology of food, but some of the most interesting results involve children.
They found sneaky ways to up your kids’ intake of good-for-you food. Here are the top tips:
Tip 1: Get Descriptive
By using the same techniques that restaurants use to entice mom and dad into ordering the special, you can also con junior into eating better.
Cornell’s website quotes a University of Illinois study that found just labeling food differently enhanced the eater’s experience.
So in the study, “Succulent Italian Seafood Filet” was deemed tastier than “Seafood Filet” even though test goers were eating the exact same fish.
How to translate to your kids’ plate?
Give those carrots and broccoli a makeover. Cornell found that just by calling carrots “X-Ray vision carrots,” broccoli “ Tiny Tasty Tree Tops,” and green beans “Silly Dilly Green Beans” they were able to get kids to eat more. How much more? In one test school cafeteria, kids bought 99% percent more veggies.
Tip 2: What Would Batman Eat?
We all want our kids to make healthier choices but apparently, how you frame the question—what do you want to eat?—makes all the difference.
Cornell reported in its Food and Brand lab newsletter about a recent field study from a summer camp.
The kids were offered apple slices or fries as a side.
But prior to making the choice, kids were shown pictures of real or fictional role models and asked—what side would this person choose?
Then when it came to making their own choice, the percentage of kids picking apples when from 9 percent—to about 45 percent.
So next time you’re pushing spinach ask, what would Popeye do?
Tip 3: Plate it Up
Researchers, again at Cornell, have found children like their food presented in ways that may surprise adults.
We’re not talking cutting sandwiches into shapes, but the adult amount and variety of food on a plate.
While Cornell found that adult generally put three types of food with three colors on their plates, kids prefer more—seven components and six colors.
So just by putting more options and variety on a plate could entice your kids to eat better.
Research is ongoing in the field, but no scientist can top the lab of mom and dad. Tell us which tricks you use to get your kids to eat better on our Facebook page.
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