Brainwash Your Kids to Like Broccoli.

Don’t panic. I’m not talking about starting a broccoli-themed cult. I’m talking about using a little marketing. A quick lesson in food marketing may be just the thing you need to help your children transition to healthier foods.

Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, is my current favorite food psychologist.  (Yes, it’s a real field of study!) He carried out two different studies that are both funny and practical. Use these results to help you sell broccoli at your very own dinner table.

Study #1: Researchers changed the name of foods to sound more interesting and appetizing. For toddlers, broccoli became dinosaur trees and consumption increased 50%. For Adults, Seafood Filet became Succulent Italian Seafood Filet and sales increased by 28%.

Study #2: Researchers decorated a section of a Hardee’s restaurant with white tablecloths, candles, indirect lighting, and soft jazz. The diners on this side of the restaurant ate fewer calories and reported higher satisfaction when rating their food.

How do we take this research and make it work at a real kitchen table? Start here with my fool-proof formula to make your healthy food sound amazing.

click to enlarge

Don’t worry if you’re not the world’s best cook. I’m not either. But my husband always manages to come home for lunch when I text him a fancy name for leftovers. Take note that this formula targeted for sophisticated tweens through adults. Renaming toddler food only requires a little imagination. You can enlist older siblings to help you name the food. They can be your incognito broccoli-brainwashers.

If your family seems to be running in a million directions, it may seem impossible to have a formal meal, let alone one with candles. Start with one meal a week, even if it’s breakfast. We’ve had many candle-lit whole wheat pancake breakfasts. My boys think it’s beyond cool. They are now the initiators and round up the candle sticks. All I have to do is supply the pancakes (and the fire). Assign your older kids to participate in setting the table. It may turn into a really special family tradition.

Want to read more findings from Brian Wansink and his colleagues at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab?
More summaries of these great studies can be found through the following sources:
New York Times
Reuters
Blue Zones

1 Comment

  1. T.J. says:

    Awesome idea! TJ

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