Want your child to make healthy food choice 90% of the time? Know the Secrets!

Want your child to make healthy food choice 90% of the time? Know the Secrets!

Want your child to make healthy food choice 90% of the time? Know the Secrets!

“Only 90% of the time?” let me start by telling you that 90% is a highly optimistic figure, being parents/caretakers, you would know that. The bigger question is, how to make your kids choose healthy most of the time? Or more importantly, what would make them want to make healthier eating choices?

Before we go any further, how much aware are the adults about food and nutrition? How often are there conversations happening around what one eats, and how it affects us? If these are something new, fret not.

Starting from Calorie

The calorie is a way to measure energy – 1 calorie is the amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of one gram of water one degree. In other terms, how much energy is our body deriving from the food we eat, be it a vegetable or pastry. Let’s attempt to compare the amount of food that is consumed for 200 calories

Fast Food Fruits Vegetables Pastries
½ slice of Pepperoni Pizza 2 apples 10 medium tomatoes ½ muffin
1/3rd of Big Burger 2 medium bananas 50 baby carrots ½ average cut cake piece
2 kid sized fries 40 cherries 2/3rd large white potato 4/5th of 1 donut

If energy from eating the foods is the same, where does the difference come in?

It is in what goes into making that food – the macro-nutrients and the micro-nutrients, and the way our body utilizes these that makes the difference. Macro nutrients are the proteins, carbohydrates and fat.

  • Proteins give 4 calories per gram that goes build and repair muscles among other things;
  • carbohydrates help the body undertake heavy physical activity by providing 4 calories with every gram;
  • fat gives 9 calories per gram of consumption, and provides energy for daily activities and helps us absorb vitamins and minerals.

Micro-nutrients make up inconspicuous portions in terms of energy provided. It plays a crucial role in maintaining your health and body. The mix of micro and macro-nutrients is what makes all the difference in what we consume. This is in-short the basis of a well-balanced meal. Apart from catering to the palate, it will provide the optimum nutrients for the given level of calorie intake. Junk foods have a higher fat and carbs in food than the healthier counterparts which makes it unhealthy for everyday consumption.

Then why Junk Food?

A lot of research goes behind making us eat junk food, unfortunately, this proportion is higher on par with making people eat healthily. This makes awareness vital and essential.

  • The sensation of eating food– this includes not just the taste, but also the smell and how it feels inside our mouth
  • Macro-nutrient makeup of food – the perfect flavoring, the salt, the sugar and fat blend.

These were the results of Steven Witherly, a food scientist who spent the last 20 years researching on what makes food addictive. A more detailed finding of his report Why Humans Like Junk Food

More on food addiction

Eating is a process, it involves the five senses, despite taste being predominant. A food scientist typically looks to target each of these senses to capture the brain.

Contrast works – be it in texture, flavour, or colour it gives the surprise element that we crave for. A classic dynamic contrast is played on textures, hard on the outside, soft on the inside, or vice versa. An Oreo cookie, a chocolate with nut/caramel filling. Bubble teas a classic example of dynamic contrast in flavours; and colours are all those elements that go in making food look amazing, on a plate and food photography.

Salivation creates the impact factor – Saliva helps to spread the flavour to spread throughout the taste-buds. Foods with a saucy/glazy texture help in spread the taste across your tongue. This, in turn, makes the brain associate the feeling of goodness while eating food that contains mayonnaise, chocolate, butter, salad dressing sauces.

Disappearing foods – these are foods that melt inside your mouth. Soanpapdi and Cheetos are classic examples. This gives are feeling of incomplete eating and therefore results in overeating.

Dumbing Sensory response – Eating the same food causes makes it less enjoyable, this happens through the meal. The sensory response does not like monotony, this makes the food less enjoyable with every bite. In the case of junk food, scientists carefully plan to dumb down this feeling. The crunchiness, the different flavours keeps us going, unmindful of the quantity.

Tricks the receptors – There are receptors in the mouth and stomach that looks out for proteins, carbohydrates and fat and tells the brain about the calorie factor. Bran in-turn understands how the filling is that food that we have just had. In case of junk food, it is designed to give the feeling of nutrients but however, does not give the entire satisfaction of feeling full.

Associated memories – as we eat, the mind starts to associate all the above feelings with the food that we consume. This is precisely the reason why junk foods tend to leave a feel-good feeling, a craving sensation that indulges us to eat more.

Going around the Junk Food

The amount of research that has gone into making junk food a craze is immense, but this has also provided with a wealth of information, years of evidence on what works on the human brain. In a study conducted by Cornell University research shows that its just not the consumption of junk food that is making us fat, but also the lack of eating healthier food is a root cause. The body misses out on essential micronutrients that are essential for the body.

How to make kids eat healthy

We often miss the point that kids are copycats, they learn everything from environments that they are in. Naturally, food at home plays a major role, for which adults need to start imbibing these habits.

Watch your environment–  A secret study conducted in a hospital shows that with slight changes to the environment, people will change to healthier eating options without changing their willpower or needing to step up their motivation.
vending machine

Inspired by: NCBI

With an increase in presence of bottled water (Ref. Image b), people started consuming more of water, so much so that bottled sales increased by 25.8% and simultaneously soda sales dropped by 11.4%. The interesting aspect which we can take up at our homes is that none of them was informed about this change, just by seeing more bottled water, consumption increased.

The basis of this study is that humans grab whichever is the easiest, especially when there is stress, tiredness or distraction is involved. So change your environment today, put healthier food at more reachable places, keep the unhealthy food at a distance. This would dither eating with no efforts from your end.

More on easier ways to eat healthily

Smaller plates and taller glasses – these are a classic old trick that one can easily change too. When the plate is smaller or glasses are slender and longer, even tiny portions of food/drink would make the plate/glass seem fuller. Since we know we sensory perception matters, this would dither over-consumption.

Contrast matters – Using darker plate has proven to make us eat lesser. Especially the use of dark blue/dark green as plate colours helps to differentiate light coloured food more, thereby making consumption lesser as compared to greens which blend in better.

Display of foods – Using bigger boxes that catches our eyes and in handy places would ensure we pick them up more often. Conversely using smaller boxes, covering up junk food with an opaque wrap makes us choose it less other than others.

Despite these are tips for adults, these will ensure that your kids will copy your actions and soon they will start making healthier eating choices. There are things that you can do to ensure your child eats healthy.

Get kids cooking – the easiest way to make them involved to eat healthily is to include them in your cooking routine. Take them to the store as you show, let them choose, guide them to choose wisely

Avoid commenting – It is easy as parents to comment or put your foot down while eating. This will only make them resist whatever you say. Instead, serve a balanced meal and let them make their choices.

Make memories – eating habits also arise from thoughts and ideas associated with the food. Try to ensure that your child associates healthy food with fun memories. This will make them gravitate towards healthier food options.

After home comes the school environment, yet another important environment which plays a major role in a child’s life. Despite having a very healthy environment, children can be exposed to unhealthy eating choice at schools – their peers, the canteen in the school, and food-joints around the school.

This needs to be looked into more deeply, as the statistics are worrying. A survey was conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment, known as Know Your Diet . Over 13,200 children between 9-17 years from 300 schools across the urban cites in India participated in the survey.

Almost 59 % of those between 14-17 years consumed junk food on a daily basis and this share dropped with the younger age group. Almost 27% of surveyed children consumed fast-foods like burgers and pizzas at least once a week. Survey also looked into the high dependence of school children on packages food and beverages. The breakfast cereals contained harmful food additives that were innate to food processing. According to CSE survey,  more than 40% of the kids consumed junk food from the street food more than once a week, this includes, samosas, sherbets, and sweets.

While the above statistics   However, the difference was that the schools had no canteens and the junk food (mostly chips) was purchased from shops outside.

What can be done at schools

Environment plays a major role, easy accessibility matters, frequent viewing of these healthy foods matter. With the government enforcing stricter regulations  in schools, the schools themselves can make these healthier choices.

Healthy Vending Machines

This is a growing concept from the west that is gaining popularity. It has all the elements of encouraging people to eat healthy without having to up their will-power or motivation. Vending machines are kept in places which are easily accessible, colourful display that attracts and most of all it keeps the fun of choosing and a fancy way to get the food.

Success Story – H.U.M.A.N. Healthy Vending

This idea hit Sean Kelly more than a decade back when he noticed a lady having soda after a workout just because nothing else was available. Access to healthy food options was the primary cause of this unhealthy eating choices. This had to be changed and soon after a lot of research, he started to put out vending machines in three states. This model was however not scalable. He had to change his idea by serving single-serve healthy items. This idea took off extremely well with large-scale distributors filling the gap. He wanted to change his line of business. And when Andrew Mackson, who was working on an hot-dog vending machines were connected with Kelly, HUMAN Healthy Vending was born. This company sources healthy food from the local supplier, thereby reworking on their scalability. Their machines are now smaller so that it can fit into most spaces, this company has been recognised as the company fighting the fat with hi-tech vending machines. This model can be replicated in India, thereby tackling a wealth of issues that surround student snacking in schools.

Snackexperts Way

With a healthy snack made available in offices in plenty, we can reach out to schools as well and provide them with our fabulous variety of foods that the kids will love. Not just schools but spaces where students come after school hours, any food-joints, spaces where classes are held, etc. This will not only make your space attractive but also make you part of the global movement that combats obesity.

We also deliver snack packs for homes, making it convenient for you. Our awesome SNACKID plan is one such innovation that can solve the junk snacking habits of kids. We provide 30 different and innovative snack varieties for the kids in a single package. This can be provided as one portion per day. Kindly check the plans here.

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