To Eat Healthier, Don’t Think About Health

Focusing on taste could be the best way to improve our diets

Lempert ReportA new study from Stanford University sheds a new light on how we make decisions about eating healthier. It finds the more we fret about the nutrients, the harder it is to eat healthy.

Brad Turnwald, study co-author and postdoctoral scholar at the Stanford Mind & Body Lab, told Thrive, "Our culture is used to thinking about how nutritious foods will help our bodies function, look better or stave off disease, but these aren't our top priorities when we're hungry and want something that tastes good." This can lead to a mindset that healthy eating is boring and even depriving.

The study suggests focusing on taste and how delicious healthy foods can be.

Turnwald's study found that being mindful of these "experiential" elements of eating could help you choose wisely. Healthy foods have so much more to offer than mere vitamins and nutrients, such as delicious crunch, a colorful feast for the eyes and, yes, a ton of flavor, Thrive recommends. This could be as simple as topping a salad with some fresh herbs, or keeping a bottle of hot sauce at work to amp up the flavor of an otherwise "boring" plate. These strategies can "help us enjoy eating nutritious foods time and again and feel satisfied when we do because we aren't in a mindset of restriction," Turnwald says. 

So for supermarkets and grocerants, merchandising taste and flavor alongside healthy attributes on signage and dietitian picks may be the more effective tool to change behaviors.


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