How to Make Fruits and Veggies the Obvious Choice for Your Kids

by Sarah Burns
Originally Published: 

The Cornell study analyzed 112 studies that collected information about healthy eating behaviors and found that most healthy eaters did so because a restaurant, grocery store, or school cafeteria made foods like fruits and vegetables visible and easy to reach, enticingly displayed, and appear to be an obvious choice.

“A healthy diet can be as easy as making the healthiest choice the most convenient, attractive, and normal—the CAN formula,” explains study author Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. For instance, he says, when a school cafeteria places an attractively arranged fruit bowl next to a well-lit cash register, it suddenly becomes more convenient and normal to choose the fruit than to select a candy bar from a nearby vending machine.

“With these three principles, there are endless changes that can be made to lead people to eat healthier,” said Wansink.

For instance, he says, if schools want children to drink more white milk than chocolate, they can make white milk more convenient (put it in the front of the cooler), more attractive (sell it in a shapely bottle), or more normal (give it half of the cooler space instead of a small corner of the cooler). In previous studies conducted by Dr. Wansink, each of these changes increased white milk consumption by 30-60 percent in schools.

So, bust out a fruit bowl for the kitchen table or toss up a small salad and start serving it with dinner some nights (to normalize the option) then place all salads in colorful bowls for your kids to consume (to amp up the attractiveness factor).

Then, cross your fingers and hope the kids fork it up.

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