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How to Trick Yourself Into Loving "Health" Food

If you want to eat healthy, but can't bear to choke down another deli salad, rest easy! There's a new, easy way to make any "diet" food taste amazing.

You know that kale and other superfoods serve up the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy and lean. But when it comes to putting fork to mouth, it's hard to psych yourself up for a big bowl of quinoa and veggies when you're really not feeling like it. There's good news, though: Health food boredom is about to become a thing of the past, and it's all thanks to a team of University of Cologne scientists. And no, they didn't invent a special powder that makes apples and carrots taste like cake. Sorry!

The researchers, who published their finding in the journal, Health Psychology, found that women rated healthy dishes more favorably when they prepared the food themselves. If you think this trick sounds too easy to be legit, we assure you it's not. To come to this finding, the researchers split a group of 120 women in half and gave one group an "unhealthy" chocolate milkshake and the other group a "healthy" raspberry smoothie. Within each of these categories, some women were instructed to make the drink themselves and the other women had the drink prepared by the researchers. The experiment measured the women's liking and perceived healthiness of the food through written follow-up questionnaires. The researchers found that the women who made the healthy smoothie themselves found the drink to be significantly more satisfying than those who had the drink prepared for them. As for the milkshake sippers, they found the treat equally as satisfying, regardless of who prepared it. (Basically, a chocolate treat is awesome no matter who makes it. But you already knew that.)

This phenomenon, dubbed the "IKEA Effect," explains that humans get more reward and satisfaction from products they partially created, whether it's an end table, a smoothie or chia pudding. But when it comes to food, there's far more than satisfaction on the line. There are slim down benefits, too. One study found that frequent home cooks consume 137 fewer calories and 16 fewer grams of sugar every day, on average, than those who regularly eat at restaurants! Ready to get cooking? Plan a week's worth of meals in one day with our 25 Tips to Cook Once, Eat For a Week!


Olivia Tarantino
Olivia Tarantino is the Managing Editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in nutrition, health, and food product coverage. Read more about Olivia