Some of us just don’t eat our vegetables. Perhaps the names of veggies are just too bland. For many, carrots simply fail to spark our taste buds’ imagination, so we leave them on the plate. But how do twisted citrus-glazed carrots sound? Yum.
Researchers at Stanford University lament that providing nutrition information to promote healthy eating isn’t really working. The problem, they say, is focusing on health to the detriment of taste. That may imply that healthy eating is unappetizing and a bore.
But the team found in a study that they could get folks to eat more vegetables by pinning evocative descriptions to them. The catch is that the labels have to be tethered to reality. Relabeling broccoli as “zesty broccoli with a twist of heaven” is meaningless unless this historically maligned vegetable also is prepared flavorfully.
And the description has to reflect what the cook has actually done in the meal’s preparation. That twisted citrus-glazed carrots need to be, well, glazed. Simply labeling something “absolutely awesome zucchini,” study authors say, won’t work because that’s too vague.
The researchers put their theory into practice at dining halls at Stanford and a handful of other universities. The study, published in Psychological Science, found the students loaded their plates with vegetables 29% more often when the food was given taste-focused versus health-focused names.
The paper noted diners ate 39% more veggies by weight. That’s an accomplishment since college students are one of the most vegetable-adverse age groups.
Of course, some of us aren’t going to touch broccoli unless no matter what, [pause]… or how well … it’s dressed up.