Priming Your Brain to Eat Healthier

Thinking the right thoughts before you enter a grocery store can help you make better choices and eat healthier.

You know how it is. Walk into a grocery store and see the beautiful label or the great ad and you pull one off the shelf and into your shopping cart. Marketing and advertising works.

Thinking about healthy eating may be enough to prime your brain to make better food choices

But what if you were influenced to buy healthier foods with the same kinds of marketing and ads? A recent study sought to lower your temptation to buy certain unhealthy foods by priming your brain to eat healthy.

The study evaluated normal weight and overweight shoppers who were given either a health primed or a control flyer in a grocery store. A health-primed flier included words like “healthy” or “good for your figure” and pointed out the calorie count on the dish.

The non-health-primed flier included words like “try it out” or “new recipe” with no mention of health or calories. The people in the study agreed to provide their weight and height, to have their grocery receipt reviewed and to answer some questions after they read the flyer and finished shopping.

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Overweight and obese participants bought almost 75% fewer snacks when they received a health-primed flier. The prime worked only when customers paid initial attention to the flyer that contained the health prime. However, they didn’t have to be shown the prime again during grocery shopping.

This study could have a lot of implications for you and for grocery stores. Stores could place health-primes around the sections of the store where the most junk food is sold to lower the amount sold. Of course, they may not want to do this because it could lower sales.

But you could read and think about health-primes before you go food shopping or to a restaurant. And you could put some health-primes up in your kitchen and on your food cabinets. Thinking about healthy eating may be enough to prime your brain to make better food choices for home and lunch boxes.

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