Like it or not, we humans have a tendency to emphasize the negative, a concept known as the negativity bias. For example, focusing on unpleasant encounters more than positive, reacting more strongly to negative stimuli, focusing attention on negative information faster. From an evolutionary perspective, this served us well. Our caveman ancestors were exposed to immediate environmental threats such as predators, so reacting quickly to negative stimuli helped us survive, whereas admiring a beautiful sunset did not.
Fortunately, we modern humans don’t have to dodge saber-toothed tigers or remember which berries are poisonous, but our negativity remains, which doesn’t usually serve us well these days. When I talk to people who want to make changes to their eating habits, they often lead in a negative direction. I have to stop eating X, or I want to limit Y, or I can’t control myself about Z. If you tend to think this way too, here are a few ways to modify your nutrition thinking to emphasize the positive.
Think inclusion, not exclusion. If you feel like your current diet isn’t as nutritious as you’d like it to be, think about the foods you want to bring into your life and meals. Do you want to eat more vegetables, more fish, more whole grains? Would your breakfast and snacks satisfy you longer if you added more protein? When you add nutritious foods that support your health and well-being, this will naturally tend to crowd out foods that don’t.
Remember that food is your friend. Food has fueled and sustained you throughout your life and will continue to do so. Despite the tendency of many celebrity doctors and wellness influencers to throw around words like toxic and poison when talking about food, there are no foods or food groups that will destroy your health in the context of a varied and balanced diet (eg. could be extremely harmful, even broccoli and water). Wheat, meat, eggs, dairy, nightshades, fruit, non-organic, none of these nutritious foods are the nutritional devils they are often portrayed as, unless you have a diagnosed food allergy or intolerance (such as celiac disease). In these cases, it is clear that the particular offending food or food component should be avoided.
Eat foods you like, foods that make you feel good and facilitate a meaningful life. If the way you eat doesn’t make you happy (even if it’s healthy), or if you don’t feel well physically after meals, these are huge clues that you could benefit from a change. For example, if your diet has a set of rigid rules that make it impossible to socialize with friends over food because you can’t eat anything, and require you to do everything from scratch even though it feels heavy and stressful, loosening the reins can ultimately be better for your mental and even physical health . Or if the way you eat leaves you constantly hungry, tired and cranky, or perhaps too full, sleepy and uncomfortable, there is clearly room for positive change.
Part of creating a positive mindset about food means that you think about not only nutrition, but also how you feel about food and eating. If you fear certain foods or feel guilty about what or how much you eat, your relationship with food is unhealthy no matter how healthy you put it in your mouth. Just food for thought.
#positive #negative #mindset #nutrition
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