Learning Strategies Blog

Make the Choice to Be Healthy

by Pete Bissonette

Have you ever walked into your kitchen for a late night snack and had an internal debate… Ice cream or yogurt? Potato chips or veggies? A cookie or a pear?

If so, consider debating yourself a little longer. It could help you make the healthier choice, suggests a study published in Psychological Science.

According to psychological scientists from the California Institute of Technology, your brain needs to process various factors before deciding between foods, including tastiness, calories, sodium content, and overall healthfulness. They hypothesized that the brain processes concrete factors, such as taste, more quickly than abstract factors, like healthfulness.

To test this theory, scientists evaluated the decision-making process of 28 students who had fasted for four hours to see when taste and health came to mind in choosing between healthy and unhealthy foods.

Prior to the experiment, students were asked to rate 160 food items for healthfulness, tastiness, and how much of each food they would like to eat.

They were then asked to choose between nearly 300 random pairings of the same food items, including candies, fruits, chips, and granola bars.

Using a statistical tool, scientists were able to measure how quickly health and taste considerations came up.

On average, taste influenced decisions quicker than health.

And, shortening the time gap before health came into play was key in making the healthier choice.

Students who mainly selected healthy choices averaged a shorter gap between considering taste and considering health.

“The more quickly someone begins to consider a food’s health benefits, the more likely they are to exert self-control by ultimately choosing the healthier food,” says Nicolette Sullivan, co-author of the study. “The larger the ‘head start’ taste had in the decision process, the more likely subjects were to make a poor choice.”

By briefly delaying your decision, you could give healthfulness factors a chance to catch up, Sullivan suggests.

You can also train your mind to instinctively make healthier decisions more quickly with this exercise from our Recover & Reenergize Paraliminal.

If you are not already clear about what health means for you, ask yourself the following:

  • What would it mean if I were healthy in all areas of my life?
  • What would that degree of health feel like? You will need to recognize when you have created it, so think about what it sounds like and looks like to experience health in all areas of your existence.

Once you are certain of the kind of health you want, use this visualization exercise to help you achieve it:

  • Close your eyes and imagine what you would notice if your goal were to manifest. Create a full sensory internal representation of the desired result in your mind. It is essential you use as many senses as possible.
  • Repeat your visualization two more times. With each representation increase the number of details you imagine.

Practice this visualization to make health a part of your conscious awareness on a daily basis, helping you lessen the gap between taste and health considerations when you choose that late night snack.

To help you direct your mind to achieve greater health, vitality, and balance in all areas of your life, I recommend you listen to the Recover & Reenergize Paraliminal. Simply push play, close your eyes, relax, and listen. This closed-eye process activates your “whole mind” with a precise blend of music and words to help you get the most out of every minute.

To learn more about Recover & Reenergize and all our other Paraliminal programs, please click here.