Eat Healthier Just by Picturing This

Medically reviewed in June 2021

If you want to eat healthier, just picture yourself doing this: eating healthier!

Yep, it may all boil down to mind over matter. In a study, when college students pictured themselves buying and eating more fruit every day, they did a better job of doing exactly that.

Planned Imagination
Here's how it worked: All the students in the study were asked to set a goal of eating more fruit for a 7-day period. But one group of students was instructed to do two additional things: write a step-by-step action plan of how, when, and where they'd buy and eat more fruit; and mentally picture themselves carrying out that plan. That meant vividly imagining not only the action of eating more fruit but also how it would smell, feel, look, and taste. And those who ate little fruit to begin with and who vividly pictured themselves carrying out the eat-more-fruit plan notched up their fruit intake the best. (Related: Find out why meal planning is absolutely essential to eating a more healthful diet.)

Goal Getter
The researchers aren't exactly sure why a concrete plan coupled with mental imagery worked so well, but other self-improvement studies show similar results. So whether your goal is to eat more fruit, walk a few more miles, or lose a few pounds, spend time really picturing yourself putting your plan into action. Wish you ate more healthfully? Use these other diet helpers, too:

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