The Benefits of Asking Kids What Their Favorite Superheroes Would Eat

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It turns out, Superman can do more than smash villains! In an imaginary world, he can also has the power to promote good health for our kids in the real world. However, he does need just a little help from the parents themselves.

what superman eats

If Superman was here, he would probably want to know what your kids think he actually eats before he gets started fighting those bad guys! After all, he couldn’t possibly be strong enough to lift heavy equipment or even fast enough to run, if he’s eating junk all day!

Using your kids’ favorite characters or superheroes are a great way to get them to choose healthier options to build their own strength and super powers.

What Would Superman Eat?

In a Cornell study headed by Dr. Brian Lansink, researchers found kids chose apple slices instead of french fries when asked what their role model would eat. Here are Dr. Wansink’s direct words:

“We found we could get kids to choose the healthier food much more often if we simply asked what their favorite superhero or their favorite princess would do. Even if they responded ‘french fries’, half the time they took the apple slices. It simply causes an interruption in their thinking that causes them to pause, hit the reset button inside their head and think again.”

children-great-imitators

Researchers conducted the study on 22 kids over the course of four weeks at a Summer camp. When given the option, between apple fries and french fries, only nine percent chose apple fries.

When the kids were first presented with a picture of a real or fictional role model and then asked to choose between apple fries and french fries, 45 percent chose apple fries. Still far from a perfect number, but it showed a 36 percent increase!

For those of you who are a little more intrigued, I’d like to recommend two other books by Dr. Wansink on the topic that are worth checking out: Mindless Eating and Slim by Design.

Fun Applications

The study also saw some fun applications on the subject of role models with adults, particularly parents, since Dr. Wansink notes, “The same thing works for adults.

If you’re faced with a decision like, ‘Should I eat dessert?’ think of an admired person in your life. Say to yourself, ‘What would my cool friend Steve do?’ You’ll find that about a third of the time it will be easier for you to make healthier decisions.” If you have no idea what your “cool friend Steve” would actually eat, perhaps healthy choices associated with your workouts could help.

An involved mom developed a whole program for her kid’s kindergarten around the question, “What would Superman eat?” Instead she calls it “Eat Like a Superhero” and invites kids to “Hero Up.”

“It’s basically MyPlate Superhero style! Let me tell you, the kids LOVED it and gobbled up tons of healthy foods,” she said.

Schools in the Bronx started building a positive culture around healthy eating by rolling out three new superheroes: Frankie Fruitman, Victor Veggie, and Wanda Water. They came about after a marketing firm asked 15 school kids from the Bronx: “Who would be best to convince kids to eat their vegetables — astronauts, athletes or superheroes?” The kids chose superheroes without hesitation. Turns out they were right.

So next time your child is locked in an epic battle between good and evil food choices, just ask them: “What Superman eat?”