According to a recent research, food choices can be influenced by a simple shifting of attention towards the healthy side of life.
And that shift may provide strategies to help us all make healthier choices-not just in terms of the foods we eat, but in other areas, like whether or not we pick up a cigarette.
Antonio Rangel, professor of economics and neuroscience at Caltech, and Todd Hare, who is now an assistant professor of neuroeconomics at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, came to their conclusions based on data from a brain-imaging experiment conducted with 33 adult volunteers, none of whom were following a specific diet or trying to lose weight for any reason.
Each of the volunteers was shown 180 different food items-from chips and candy bars to apples and broccoli-through a set of video goggles while in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine.
When thinking about healthiness, subjects were less likely to eat unhealthy foods, whether or not they deemed them to be tasty, and more likely to eat healthy-untasty foods.
Being asked to think about healthiness led subjects to say "no" to foods more often than they did when asked to make decisions naturally.
The study was recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience.