The secret to sticking to a healthy diet is much simpler than we think. To make the dieting process simpler, all you have to do is eat the foods you love.

According to a new research published in the in the journal of Psychology & Marketing, people who focus on eating healthy meals that they enjoy have a higher success rate when it comes to eating healthy as opposed to those who focus on avoiding the unhealthy foods they love and crave.

Food lists are not effective.

Kelly Haws, associate professor of marketing at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management in Nashville says: “Focusing on what you can have, and can do, and should have more of is a better strategy.” The absolute advice and food lists that tell people NEVER to eat something sets most people up for failure.

When you advice someone NOT to eat the foods they love, chances are, they will find themselves craving this unhealthy food, eat it anyway then beat themselves up about it. Before long, this becomes frustrating which may cause them to ditch the whole healthy living plan.

Self control is key:

The researchers found that people with high self control make better chances than those who are impulsive.

The Study:

176 undergraduate students were divided into two groups. On group was asked to make a list of the foods they thought were good for dieting an the other was asked to write a list of the foods they thought weren’t appropriate for a healthy diet. Each group was asked to rate the foods based on likability. Their accepted scale of self control was also gauged.


As anticipated, those with higher self control tended to list foods they loved on the healthy foods column and those they didn’t like as those to avoid. The impulsive individuals were more likely to to list the foods they loved on the column for foods to avoid. They also tended to put the foods they enjoyed eating on the unhealthy column.

A subsequent study also confirmed these results. 200 undergraduates were given 16 snacks, some healthy and some unhealthy. They were then asked to choose their top 5 items. Those fixated on avoiding the food they liked chose the unhealthy snacks. Those who focused on eating healthy foods they likes made healthier choices.

Meaning of the findings:

In conclusion people who exercise better self control naturally set themselves up for success. And its all in the power of positive thinking. When we think of healthy foods as being enjoyable, we become more successful as opposed to the negativity that comes with focusing on avoiding unhealthy foods.

In order to succeed, stick to a diet that suits your taste buds and palate. Wright, who is also assistant professor of nutrition at the University of South Florida College of Public Health in Tampa says: “You can still have a nutritionally healthy diet but [include] foods that are acceptable and taste good to that individual.”