Water With Your Meal May Encourage Better Food Choices

Water With Your Meal May Encourage Better Food Choices

Research shows we eat healthier when served water with our meals.

Trouble getting your children to eat healthy? Or maybe you’re trying to eat better yourself? New research shows that a glass of water might be what’s needed to help develop a better palate for nutritional foods.

In a study that surveyed 60 adults aged 19 to 23 and 75 children aged three to five, researchers found that older participants preferred eating salty, calorie-dense foods than vegetables when drinking soda  with their meal; younger participants ate more raw vegetables when they were served with water than with a sweetened beverage.

Previous studies have suggested the foods we eat as children will influence our choices later in life. In other words, we could be teaching our children to associate sweet, high-calorie drinks with salty and fatty high-calorie foods such as French fries. In a study published in January of 2011, researchers identified that children are able to demonstrate brand recognition in relation to their taste preferences for salt, sugar, and fat.

“This important research has broad ramifications for how foods are marketed and served,” said Kimberly Andrews Espy, vice president for research and innovation at the University of Oregon. “Addressing the early contributors of unhealthy eating that contribute to obesity is important for our general well-being as a nation and, especially, for improving the nutritional choices our children will make over their lifetimes.”

T. Bettina Cornwell, professor of marketing at the University of Oregon, recommends serving water with all meals in the home and at restaurants. She suggests restaurants that offer meal combos could use water as a default drink and charge extra for other, less healthy alternatives.

She said, “if the drink on the table sets the odds against both adults and children eating their vegetables, then perhaps it is time to change that drink, and replace it with water.”

Drinking water with your meal will also help reduce dehydration. According to the study’s press release, many estimates on dehydration suggest that 75 percent of adult Americans are chronically dehydrated.

Looking for ways to bring more water into your diet? Check out these tips for hydration:

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