Mood & Food: How can positive thinking lead to healthier choices

We already know that the way we think has a huge impact on our life outcomes, but is it possible to affect our food choices as well?

The short answer to that is: YES!!!

The way we think, either positive or negative, can lead us to healthier or unhealthier food choices.

According to Esther Hicks (an American inspirational speaker and author), people who have more often than not negative thoughts tend to feed their body with equally “negative” (i.e. less nutritious) food. On the other hand, positive thinking has an equally positive effect on our food choices, therefore better for our overall health.

If, for example, we had to choose between a piece of fruit or a bar of chocolate, it is more likely to choose the fruit when we are in a “positive” mood and if our mood is not so great it is more likely to choose chocolate.

Why is this happening though?

The researchers from the “Food and Brand Lab” at Cornell University have figured out an answer.

In order to explore the “why” they combined the theories of affective regulation (how people react to their moods and emotions) and temporal construal (the perspective of time) to explain food choice.

Conceptually, when people feel uncomfortable or are in a bad mood, they know something is wrong. So, they focus on what is close in the here and now. This kind of thinking gets us to focus on the sensory qualities of our foods – not things that are more abstract like how nutritious the food is. Analogously, when people are in a good mood, things seem okay and they can take a big picture perspective.  This kind of thinking allows people to focus on the more abstract aspects of food, including how healthy it is.

In conclusion:

  1. Individuals select healthy or indulgent foods depending on whether they are in a good or a bad mood, respectively.
  2. Individuals in positive moods who make healthier food choices are often thinking more about future health benefits. Those in negative moods, focus more on the immediate taste and sensory experience.
  3. Individuals in negative moods will still make food choices influenced by temporal construal. This means that trying to focus on something other than the present can reduce the consumption of indulgent foods.

Find the complete study here

Let’s chat

So which type are you at the moment? Are you a positive or a negative thinker and how does this affect your food (or other health choices)? What kind of tips or tricks have you found to help you further your health goals? I would love to hear all about it in the comments. We can connect on Instagram, too, by tagging @AlikiZikaki and #AZNutrition

2018-05-02T15:15:51+00:00