Healthful Eating Evolution

May 26, 2020

“ Healthy eating is a way of life, so it’s important to establish routines that are simple, realistically, and ultimately livable.”


What’s going on with kids diet over the past couple of months while they’ve been home schooling and parents have been working from home? While there’s not a single scenario that’s true for all homes, we imagine that one of them may be that everyone in the household, including kids, has been eating differently; more meals together, trying different types of foods, more snacking, etc. And evidenced by the frequently bare shelves in the baking isle of grocery stores, there seems to be a rise (pun intended) in baking enthusiasm! 

Suddenly, a deluge of good and useful information has been quickly devised and made readily available to promote and encourage healthy eating habits during this time at home; for example, the Eat Right organization web site provides advice and tips, and recently posted, “Family meals don’t just mean better nutrition. Children of families who regularly eat together also are more likely to have higher intakes of fruits and vegetables and have a healthy weight and are less likely to have behavior problems or use drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol when they get older. Plus, they’re closer to their parents.”

Harvard Medical School recently published a blog identifying that the tendency towards consumption of comfort food to relieve stress during these times may actually drive anxiety and worsen moods. While foods containing certain nutrients have been shown to have the dual effect of reduce anxiety and boosting immunity. 

Left to their own decisions, kids would probably prefer eating Kit Kats than kale. And, this may be said for lots of adults, too.  It’s an ago-old (or young) issue –  knowing the difference between healthy and unhealthy, and making a disciplined-based health-oriented decision to sacrifice taste in deference to nutrition. And there’s a presumption that kids simply can’t make that decision – but is that they are not being taught to and managed to? Is it a matter of influence and palette development from an early stage? What if parenting has nothing to do with it, and some kids are just born with an innate distaste for certain things? Can parents effectively evolve picky eater syndrome? Based on both medical and behavioral studies focused on the topic, a variety of tactics and remedies are devised to assist parents. 

We found some good research-based tips in an article published in Parents Magazine, “Picky Eater Rehab: 13 Proven Strategies for Picky Eaters

Speaking of adults and the influence role they played… While Millennials have often been stereotypically criticized for many things, on a positive note, their kids are more likely to try and eat healthier for you foods. Many of today’s grade schoolers are children of Millennials, the first generation to truly understand and embrace the payoff of eating right. Case in point: A recent PwC study revealed that nearly half of 18-to-34-year-olds (47%) claim they’re eating more healthily, with just 7% saying the opposite. By comparison, only 35% of Gen Xers and 23% of Baby Boomers say they’re eating more healthily.

Parents—especially younger ones—believe that they must be diligent nutrition managers for their children, and that key to this is having more healthier content options that are affordable available to them. While COVID-19 circumstances may have been making way for more time to cook from scratch, the reality is that time is not always available, and likely won’t be as parents return to work away from home schedules.

Product manufacturers rely on consumer research to guide identifying opportunities to meet these and other consumer needs to support new product innovation and development, to guide packaging designs, and to inform marketing messaging strategies. We recall one of our favorite research projects  working with parents and kids to support the development of vegetable tots and fries – a kids friendly shaped product containing a variety of vegetables. Research with kids is always fun!  However, there was an important revelation outcome from this research… while the prototypes passed the kid test for willingness to try and appealing taste, the parents contended that fooling their kids into eating vegetables was counterproductive to adapting their children to accepting vegetables. Taking the learning into a different strategy for the product, the manufacturer did not pursue kids packaging and marketing, and instead, targeted the product for adults, which has been wildly successful! 

~ Marketing Workshop