When we think about getting into shape we often think about the physical aspects: What exercises are we going to do? How much are we going to sweat? How big should our portion sizes be? How many times a day should we eat? But it turns out that many of our health habits are more mental than we even realize! New research suggests that it's more about our food and diet philosophies, or the way we think about eating, that can really make a difference. It all comes down to two words: can and can’t. Here’s how these two words play into making the best wellness decisions!
Harness the C.A.N.
Cornell University recently released results from a study that indicates the secret to making healthier choices when it comes to nutrition lies within the acronym C.A.N. How appropriate! As for what it stands for? Convenient, attractive and normal. The theory posits that if we make the healthy choices the easy, more appetizing, more obvious option, we are more likely to do the right thing. For example, if you want to get in the habit of taking healthier snacks on-the-go, keep a beautiful bowl full of fruit near your keys by the door. This way, it’s easy to grab, looks appealing and is the most evident option. Alternatively, if you’d rather reach for a taste of homemade trail-mix than that box of cookies, line the front of the pantry with some mason jars layered with nuts, seeds and dried fruits. It is conveniently located at the front of the cupboard and ready to go. Plus it's visually appealing thanks to trendy jars and will outnumber all the other snack options in the pantry! See? Tricking your mind into craving the best option is as easy as “I can.”
Ban the CAN’T
On the other hand, "I can't" is a different story! In a separate study, University of Houston researchers found that changing our language around non-diet foods helps to make all the difference. Simply telling yourself “I don’t” versus “I can’t” makes you eight times more likely to be successful when faced with nutrition decisions. The reason for this all lies within the phrase connotations; saying "I can’t" implies that there is a desire that is being restricted. We all know what happens when we’re told we can’t do something: we want to do it even more! The same principle exists with food, because the more you tell yourself you can’t have those chips, the more appealing they become. According to the research, changing your tune to “I don’t” signifies empowerment. It means you’re taking control and deciding not to indulge as opposed to being deprived of the indulgence. Do the right thing and remind yourself you don’t! It might sound like a Dr. Seuss riddle, but it works!