Eating healthy foods becomes easier when we use dynamic words to describe them.

What’s in a Name? A lot of Nutrition!

Consider this, which of these two items on the menu would you rather eat – “carrot and beetroot salad” or “lemon glazed carrots with chili seasoned beets”? I think most people would choose the later. I know I would!

Humans are naturally attracted towards exquisiteness, be it physical or literal. A recent study by a Stanford University team conducted in a university cafeteria proves just this. Each day a vegetable preparation was labeled in one of four ways “basic”, “healthy but restrictive”, “healthy and

positive” and “indulgent”. Although the labeling was different, the dish was prepared and served in the exact same manner. The study concluded that 25% more people chose to consume a vegetable preparation when it had an “indulgent” label as compared to when it had a “basic” label. Not only did people choose to eat the vegetable with a lavish name, but they also ate more of it. Furthermore, the overall quantity of veggies consumed increased by 23% when the vegetables were described in an extravagant manner over a more basic description. Though this may not come as a complete surprise, it goes a long way in establishing that there is a deep-rooted mindset in the society that anything “healthy” by definition has to be unappetizing.

Being a huge foodie myself, I can attest to the fact that food is much more than taste, it is an experience. The food experience is influenced as much by one’s perception about the food as by the actual taste. A single bad experience with a particular food and that dish or ingredient is often subconsciously blacklisted in the person’s mind. Similarly, a good experience with a food will create a positive association. It is particularly important, therefore, to create a positive food experience about healthy foods.

Describing foods in an exciting way encourage people to eat more vegetables.

On the bright side, this tendency of human beings to be easily swayed by labels, can be used to bring about a positive change in eating behaviors. The Stanford university study demonstrates that people tend to respond positively to labeling that makes food seem interesting. Use this to your advantage. Change your labeling style (in your speech and your mind) of healthy food items to more indulgent and exciting descriptions. This will help you create positive food experiences with healthy foods.

Take it a step further, start using more flattering labels for anything you don’t particularly like. Talk about exercise like it is an enjoyable experience. Describe someone you don’t like with a positive trait you appreciate about them. We label virtually everything, even without intent. Choose our labels wisely and we can create a more positive diet and life as a whole.

J.K Rowling got it right when she said, “Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it”.  Hopefully, the magic of words will also help us instill healthier food habits.