According to an uplifting study that puts a healthy spin on “mind over matter,” simply ‘thinking’ of yourself as a healthy eater can make it a reality.
For this study scientists were interested in testing the concept of ‘self as doer’, which links personal identity with behaviors. Meaning, the more a person mentally identifies himself or herself in a particular role, the easier it is to stick to the behaviors typical of that role.
To investigate if ‘self as doer’ could be put to use with healthy eating, they placed a group of 124 women into one of three study groups for a six-week period. One group was provided nutrition education; a second group was treated as a control and received no guidance; and a third was instructed to create specific personal identity statements based on healthy eating goals.
For example, if study subjects in group three wanted to consume more fruits and veggies, they were instructed to purposely and regularly think of themselves as good fruit and veggie eaters. The results – those in group three were the clear winners maintaining success with healthier eating throughout the six weeks in contrast to those in both other groups who actually made less healthy choices as the study progressed.
Even more promising, those in group three provided by far the most positive feedback noting that even in the most trying dietary situations, simply thinking of themselves as “doers’ empowered them to make healthier choices. Take home message – if you want to eat healthier, regularly identify with and see yourself in your mind’s eye as a healthy eater.
Self and Identity, 2015; 14 (6): 638 DOI: 10.1080/15298868.2015.1043335
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