The key to staying healthy over the long term could be as easy as visualizing yourself as a healthy person. In the journal Self & Identity, study authors Amanda Brouwer and Katie Mosack reviewed the eating habits of 124 women, dividing participants into three groups and asking them to keep a food diary for six weeks. The first group received educational information on nutrition, the second was a control group and the third was asked to create six statements on their eating goals.
The researchers were interested in finding out whether the “self as doer” concept – where you identify yourself as the person you want to be, such as “clean eater” or “athlete,” in order to influence permanent psychological changes – can relate to a person’s behavior with food. (The concept has been researched in other studies and suggests that those who make “doer” statements regarding their goals show greater adherence and persistence.)
When participants in the third group identified with a particular healthy-eating ethos, they were more likely to act out that belief. For instance, those who wanted to eat more fruit were encouraged to think of themselves as “fruit eaters.” Researchers found that the third group maintained their wholesome habits throughout the study and ate one portion more of healthy food a day while the other two groups ate less healthy food overall. The promising results suggest that mind prevails over matter and that nutrition education may not be enough for everyone. To stick to your clean- eating lifestyle, make positive affirmations about your diet goals to see them realized.