Visualisation leads to better dietary change

An interesting piece of research caught my eye this week. A team of psychology researchers in Montreal looked into how using mental imagery techniques may increase the likelihood of people eating more fruit and vegetables. They asked 177 students to aim to eat more fruit over the next 7 days. Those who planned, wrote it down and visualised how they were going to do it (e.g. where and when they would buy, prepare and eat the fruit) were twice as likely to increase their consumption.


This was based on 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,” says Bärbel Knäuper.


As a dietitian part of my job is helping people plan how they will manage to alter their eating habits so this research is further evidence that planning really is key. Talking through with someone what your long term goals are, how you can put them into place and having a short term goal to achieve are vital components of achieving dietary change.





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2 thoughts on “Visualisation leads to better dietary change

  1. I read the “I can make you thin” book by Paul McKenna. There are lots of tips in there which aren’t given the full name of what he’s doing but he suggests things like mindful eating and visualisation. I’m not a big fan of him as a rule but I have lost weight and kept it off for over a year now.

    Certainly if you think about what you don’t want (to eat cake for example) all you can think about is cake. If you think about what you do want (to look fabulous and feel fabulous) you might just take actions to make that happen and stop thinking about cake.

    Now all I can think about is cake. Hmm. Anyhoo you get the idea and it worked for me. It also caused me to give up every single ‘diet’ thing. No diet coke, no sweeteners, no ‘lite’ products. I’m convinced now since having done that that some of these things which are meant to help us lose weight actually don’t work.

    So yeah, from my experience of 1, I reckon visualisation can really work.

    1. Completely agree. If I think about chocolate I want it and the more I don’t eat it the more I feel deprived and want it! A little of what you want can be a good thing.

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