You sit down to order at a cafe. You’re currently “ON DIET”, your status necessitates that you choose very wisely. To be safe you turn to the section labelled salads. Glance through the options and make your choice.
You may not be acting as virtuously as you think.
When a salad is not a salad
Traditionally the term salad, referred to a collection of vegetables and herbs, that had been cut up and seasoned, and were served raw.
These days, restaurant salads can include a variety of less traditional ingredients including :
That “pasta salad” would sit quite comfortably in the Pasta Section of the menu. But in the pasta section, you would have given it a miss. The restaurateur knew this, so he added a lettuce leaf, jacked up the price and stuck the dish in the salad section.
Dieters being duped
Research reported in the Journal of Consumer Research, found that dieters were frequently conned by terminology.
The team were able to demonstrate the phenomenon on a group of dieters in the lab. They whipped up dish which was composed of a mixture of vegetables, pasta, salami, and cheese, served on a bed of fresh romaine lettuce for their participants.
The dish was served to dieters and non-dieters as either as “a salad” or “a pasta”.
The dieters perceived the meal to be less healthy, when it was called “a pasta”. Those individuals not dieting, were unconcerned about the health connotations of the meal and failed to make the “healthful” link.
Dieter beware of conditioning
Why are dieters, who are supposedly more attuned to healthy foods, likely to be confused by these labels?
The dieter is programmed to classify foods into one of two broad categories. “Good” and “bad”.
The non-dieter on the other hand, is more focused on things being “good to eat”.
Exploiting the dieters’ fixation
The world is out to sabotage your diet. Okay, that might be a bit over the top, but the food industry is in business to make profits. They only make profit when you buy.
The food industry is aware that food terms can become tainted in the dieters head. They know the dieter is on the lookout for specific terms, so they change the terms.
By removing the offensive term, the food item moves from the “bad” category to the “good”. Katching, katching – money in the cash register.
And an extra layer of fat on your hips !
It is all in the name
So what “other” products are masquerading as “healthful”, when their true healthfulness is subject to debate.
- Potatoe chips are “veggie chips”
- Milkshakes are “smoothies’
- Sugary drinks are “flavoured water”
- Candy chews are “fruit” chews
Study the list of ingredients
So if you’re ON DIET and considering popping something into your mouth. STOP. Don’t assume anything – read the list of ingredients, then decide whether to tuck in or skip out.The Impact of Product Name on Dieters’ and Non-Dieters’ Food Evaluations and Consumption. Journal of Consumer Research (2011)38(2):390-405. Caglar Irmak, Beth Vallen, and Stefanie Rosen Robinson.
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