Having a positive mindset can lead to eating healthier. A study published in the journal Appetite found that optimists tend to follow a healthy diet.
A team of researchers from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England looked at the motivational role of a theory known as regulatory focus on consumers’ involvement in nutrition. In other words, they measured the time and effort the consumers put in to finding out about nutrition and seeking out nutritious food. The research team also investigated the influence of nutrition involvement on consumers’ knowledge of nutrition and dietary behavior.
The team recruited 1,125 participants from Taiwan, where dietary habits have been changing and rates of obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes have been increasing. They asked the participants about their nutrition involvement, knowledge, and diet adjustment.
Regulatory focus indicates that there are fundamental motivational differences among people, with two aspects guiding behavior, promotion, and prevention. People with a promotion focus are concerned with pursuing positive results and engaging in healthy habits. Those who focus on prevention will seek to avoid consequences by avoiding unhealthy behaviors.
Consumer decisions on eating behaviors and nutrition can result in consequences, such as illness and obesity, that have direct public health policy implications. Increasing consumer involvement in nutrition can contribute to the fight against obesity.
The researchers found that those who focused on promotion were more involved in nutrition, such as learning about it and making healthy dietary changes as guided by media, health experts, family members, or friends. On the other hand, they found that focusing on prevention had no effect on nutrition involvement.
In addition, the team found that the impact of promotion focus on nutritional involvement was stronger among high-income consumers. The results also showed that the effect of promotion focus was greater among men than women. This suggested that the effectiveness of the intervention will vary between high- and low-income groups, as well as between men and women.
“The higher aspirational levels of promotion-focused consumers will lead to greater involvement with nutrition to enhance their wellbeing,” said Kishore Pillai, Ph.D., lead author of the study and professor of retail and marketing. “While both promotion and prevention-focused individuals will be motivated to maintain good health, the former are more likely to employ approach strategies such as nutritional involvement.”
The research team concluded that their findings shed light on nutrition-related consumer attitudes and behaviors. They also highlighted the importance of their findings as obesity and diabetes rates continue to grow. (Related: Study: Optimistic People Have Healthier Hearts.)
Having a positive mindset may lead to higher antioxidant levels
In a study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, researchers looked at the link between two indicators of positive health: optimism and blood levels of antioxidants. Their findings suggested that the more optimistic individuals had higher blood levels of antioxidants than those who were less optimistic. The participants’ antioxidant levels were only partially influenced by healthy behaviors like eating various antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.
For this study, the researchers examined 982 men and women from the Midlife in the United States study. They assessed the participants’ optimism using questionnaires. They also measured their blood levels of nine different antioxidants, including carotenoids and vitamin E. The results were adjusted for demographics, health status, and health behaviors.
The researchers suggested that increased optimism could be contributing to higher levels of antioxidants, and that it’s not only healthy behaviors that significantly influence long-term health, but also a positive mindset.