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April 6, 2018 • Healthy Eating & Nutrition, Kids Health

The Three Secrets to Healthier Eating

Holiday celebration table setting with food. Flat-lay of friends hands eating and drinking together. Top view of people having party, gathering, celebrating with rose champaign, wide composition

Thanks to the researchers from the famed Cornell Food and Brand Lab, we can now take advantage of three proven tactics for boosting the likelihood that we will eat healthily. To uncover these “secrets to healthier eating” the researchers analyzed 112 studies related to healthy eating behavior. After carefully combing through these former studies, the researchers identified three key features that repeatedly stood out as prime drivers of healthier eating. They conveniently abbreviated the trio as “C.A.N.” Whether people were in restaurants, grocery stores, school cafeterias, or in their own homes, making healthy foods highly visible and easy to access (“convenient”), aesthetically pleasing to look at (“attractive”), and presented as a standard option (“normal”) all proved to be winning strategies.

There are almost endless ways to use CAN to kick up the health quotient of your diet. Here are the most effective, home-based ways to do so:


  • Keep unhealthy food out of your home. This is the ultimate in inconvenient!
  • If you do bring unhealthy foods into your home, make them hard to get to. For example:

o    Hide the ice cream behind several bags of frozen veggies at the bottom or back of your freezer.

o     Put the cookies away on a top shelf that requires a stepping stool for access.

  • Keep healthy foods highly visible and “reachable.” For example:

o    Keep a large bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter at all times.

o    Keep finger friendly veggies (grape tomatoes, baby carrots, celery, etc.) at eye-level in the fridge, right next to a healthy, ready-made dip like hummus.

  • Take advantage of the superstar “convenience” foods that come ready to eat. There are many more, but my favorites include:

o    Frozen wild Alaskan salmon burgers (I get mine from Costco.)

o    Canned wild salmon (Costco’s has the best value.)

o    Frozen berries

o    Prepared fresh salsas (I love Jack’s brand.)

o    Prepared hummus

o    Frozen baby peas

o    Pre-washed, ready to serve, boxed or bagged lettuce greens

o    Plain Greek yogurt

o    Canned beans

o    Canned tomato products, especially paste and diced

o    Quick-cooking steel cut oats

o    Dried fruit, especially apricots, raisins, and currants

o    Dark chocolate

o    Canned artichoke hearts

o    Tap water

*All can be readily consumed with minimal to no prep involved!



  • The no-brainer key to making healthy foods attractive is to prepare meals with your own two hands from real foods. In other words, COOK! The more you cook, the more adept you will become in creating visually pleasing dishes and meals.
  • Use lots of fruits, veggies, and fresh herbs in your meals to take advantage of their vivid colors. Adding some bright color, or even better, a multitude of colors to a plate can take a meal from drab and boring to visually stunning in minutes. The colorful addition of fruits, veggies, and fresh herbs often “makes the meal” when it comes to aesthetics. And of course, they are like mini nutrition bombs too!



  • If what you do day to day in your kitchen always revolves around healthy foods, then this wholesome fare will naturally become the norm for you and your family.
  • Make unhealthy foods the rare and weirdo outliers that rarely get featured in your dishes or meals.
  • If you need some help in getting your kitchen stocked the right way, check out my full line of Healthy Grocery Guides.


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(Psychology and Marketing, 2015; 32 (5): 486 DOI: 10.1002/mar.20794)