Healthy living * Weight loss

Planning and visualising can improve diet

food habits Simple tips for healthier eating

Bad habits are difficult to break, but none more so than when it comes to food and drink.

However, US researchers have found an easy-to-follow strategy to help you improve your diet.

"Telling people to just change the way they eat doesn't work; we've known that for a while," said Dr Bärbel Knäuper at the Department of Psychology at McGill University.

The best way to improve your diet is to draw up an action plan and visualise yourself carrying it out.

"Research has shown that if people make a concrete plan about what they are going to do, they are better at acting on their intentions.

"What we've done that's new is to add visualisation techniques to the action plan."

In the study, published in the journal Psychology and Health, the researchers asked 177 students to make eating more fruit for a week as their goal.

All the students managed to eat more fruit over the seven days. However those who had written it down and visualised in their minds when, where and how they would buy, prepare and eat the fruit ate double the amount compared with the students who decided to just eat more fruit.

The researchers say they borrowed the visualisation techniques from sports psychology.

"Athletes do lots of work mentally rehearsing their performances before competing and it's often very successful. So we thought 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 this is exactly what happened," Dr Knäuper said.

This article was published on Mon 28 February 2011

Image © yellowj -

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