It’s easy to tell yourself to eat healthy but it can be a lot harder actually doing it. Creating a personalized diet plan and writing out your goals can help, but recently researchers have taken it one step further by encouraging study participants to actually visualize themselves carrying out the steps to achieving healthier eating habits.
Can visualizing a healthy lifestyle help you achieve one?
In a study recently published in Psychology and Health, researcher Barbel Knäuper asked 177 students at McGill University to make a goal to consume more fruit for a period of seven days. In addition, some students were asked to write out a concrete plan outlining how they planned to incorporate more fruits into their diet and then visualize themselves going through the motions of realizing this goal. Specifically, they were told to plan/visualize 1) how they would buy and prepare the fruits and 2) when and where they were going to eat them.
The results? The study found that everyone in the study increased their fruit intake. However, those who used this visualization technique increased their fruit consumption by twice as much as those who didn’t.
Visualization is a technique used in sports psychology whereby athletes mentally map out their strategy and performance before a competition. Researchers hypothesized that “having people mentally rehearse how they were going to buy and eat their fruit should make it more likely that they would actually do it.” And in the end, that’s exactly what happened.
The Bottom Line: