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Smart Choice Vitamin C Carrots or Twisted Citrus-Glazed Carrots?

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Descriptions of Vegetables Yield Higher Consumption

What’s in a name? Is it the key to healthier eating? Stanford University tested whether how vegetables are labeled makes a difference, and it does. Each day, vegetables were labeled differently even though how they were prepared remained the same. As the week progressed, the vegetable definition changed from basic (carrots), to healthy restrictive (carrots with sugar-free citrus dressing), to healthy positive (smart choice vitamin C carrots), to indulgent (twisted citrus-glazed carrots).

Diners chose to put the vegetables on their plate. When the vegetables were indulgently labeled, the purchases increased 25% as compared to basic labeling, 41% more than the healthy restrictive and 35% more than the healthy positive labeling. After all, who can resist twisted citrus-glazed carrots?

We cannot help but wonder what if all restaurants or school cafeterias used indulgent labeling but used spices and herbs instead of the heavy, indulgent ingredients that are so tempting? We’d be a healthier nation knowing that certain spices provide a calorie-free antioxidant boost for heart health, in addition to less added fat and sugar. As it currently stands, we cannot be so trusting with indulgent labeling as it usually truly is, well, indulgently prepared. Our mind is attracted to descriptive, colorful words, especially when it comes to food. Often times, we do choose what to eat based on the menu or box description even if we know there may be a healthier alternative.

Until our perfectly imagined world exists, be careful when buying into the marketing of the food industry. Code indulgent words to keep on your radar, whether when dining out or in the grocery store, are the following:

-          Fried: Better known as crunchy, tempura, sizzling, golden, breaded

-          Sugar Loaded: Better known as teriyaki, sticky, honey-dipped, glazed

-          High Calorie: Better known as loaded, stuffed, velvety, smothered, rich

Stick with roasted, baked, grilled, steamed, spiced, or seasoned to choose the healthier alternative. Or, just speak up and ask how an item is prepared. Most times a restaurant can prepare a special order and are willing to do so if you simply ask. Not only does it take a while to retrain your taste-buds, it takes a while to retrain your brain’s wants. But, in the end it is worth the exercise. Stick with it and go for the actually healthy, indulgently labeled Italian Stuffed Artichokes. Healthy can be indulgent!

Published August 1, 2017

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