This Personality Trait Makes You More Likely To Eat Healthy, According To Science

Contributing Health & Nutrition Editor By Stephanie Eckelkamp
Contributing Health & Nutrition Editor
Stephanie Eckelkamp is a writer and editor who has been working for leading health publications for the past 10 years. She received her B.S. in journalism from Syracuse University with a minor in nutrition.
Trying To Eat Healthier? Stop Focusing On What You "Can't" Have, Says Science

Chances are you've been told that nothing good comes from focusing on the negative. After all, when you're constantly worrying about something going wrong, you don't devote nearly as much time to pursuing your goals and being the total badass you know deep down you can be. A positive outlook, on the other hand, has the power to make you feel invincible, open you up to new ideas and information, and, as research now reveals, it might even help you eat healthier.

A new study published in the journal Appetite suggests that your attitude and mindset may partially dictate how well you end up eating. In the study, which surveyed the dietary habits of 1,125 adults, people with a more positive outlook (or "promotion focus") who focused on pursuing and engaging in healthy behaviors were more likely to have good nutritional habits than people with a slightly more negative outlook ("prevention focus") who were more concerned about avoiding unhealthy behaviors.

Having a "promotion focus," the study authors wrote, "makes people more likely to devote attention to their nutrition needs." These participants had greater involvement and interest in nutrition, which, in turn, led to greater nutrition knowledge and made them more likely to adjust their diets for the better after receiving advice from doctors or family members.

This, of course, doesn't necessarily mean you can slap on a smile and expect to start craving salads. But the research suggests that consciously choosing to focus on the beneficial things you can do for your health (making a green smoothie in the morning, meal prepping your lunches on the weekend) rather than fixating on the things you should avoid (sweets and carbs) could result in healthier habits over time.

If you tend to be a worrier or a ruminator, this shift in outlook may be easier said than done. But there are strategies that may help. Studies have found that practicing regular meditation focusing on compassion and kindness increases positive emotions and outlook, while other research shows that taking time to think about what's most important to you (your specific long-term health goals, for example), before trying to make a healthy change to your diet or lifestyle, makes you that much more likely to stick with it. 

This study is yet another example of just how connected our thoughts and emotions can be to our physical health—and how we're actually in control of so much more than we think.

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