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3 Words that Simplify Healthy Eating

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Healthy eating doesn't seem like it should be so difficult, right? Yet, how many of us have opened our fridge only to find that salad we bought moldy and forgotten? It happens. Buying fruits and veggies is an important first step, but preparing and eating them is the real trick. Thankfully, a new study finds that making just three simple changes can turn all of your good intentions into great meals.

The difference between choosing the apple instead of the apple strudel? "Healthy eating can be as easy as making the healthiest choice the most convenient, attractive, and normal option," Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of Slim by Design and Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, said in a press release.

Based on their results, researchers came up with the easy-to-remember C.A.N. method: Make healthy foods convenient, attractive, and normal. (And by extension, make junk food inconvenient, unattractive, and abnormal!) Here's how you CAN use these three tricks to become a healthier eater today.

1. Convenient. When we're in a hurry or starving, we're more likely to eat whatever is easiest. But you don't have to give into the ease of a bag of chips or microwave dinners. Instead, the scientists recommend making healthier options more convenient to see, order, pick up, and consume. Place pre-cut veggies in a container at the front of your fridge, pre-cook a batch of chicken breasts then place them in individual serving containers, or put a bowl of fresh fruit on the table by your door. (Stumped for ideas? Check out 15 Smart, Healthy Alternatives to Junk Food.)

2. Attractive. Pretty food just tastes better—that's a scientific fact, according to the Cornell Food Lab. And it's no surprise that people prefer to nosh on food that looks appetizing. Attractiveness can be conveyed through a food's name, appearance, expectations, and price, says Wansink. While you can't change the name of an ugli fruit (yes, that's a real thing!), you can buy foods you find appealing. And this may be one instance where it's worth it to splash out a few more dollars for the shiniest apples. At home, put healthy food in pretty bowls or on fun platters and pay attention to how you're serving yourself—as in, sit down and eat on your nice plates instead of hovering over the pot on the stove.

3. Normal. Humans are creatures of habit: We prefer foods that are normal to purchase, order, and eat, according to the study. Essentially, you know what you like and you like what you know. But this doesn't mean you can't broaden your palate to learn to love new foods or healthier versions of favorite foods. The trick is to make it part of your routine. For example, try setting out salad bowls every night at dinner to remind yourself to take some salad. (Or try one of our 16 Ways to Eat More Veggies.)

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