Will Positive Thinking Help Me Eat Better?
Brace yourself: this is going to be controversial.
Positive thinking doesn’t do anything. People do things. The thoughts that people think have a profound effect on the things people do.
Thoughts alone do not do. People must do. There is where the positive thinking movement has gone off the rails. We forget how necessary actions are if we wish to create change.
And yet. This idea has one major caveat. Thoughts – consistent thoughts, the thoughts we think every single day from moment to moment – become things. What does that mean?
It means being a Pollyanna won’t help shave off those last few pounds. Passing thoughts of “everything will be okay” or “I’ll be healthy one of these days” are not life-changing thoughts. These are not the sort of thoughts that create lasting change.
First things first. Let’s define positive thinking.
The term “positive” implies an opposing force, the negative. Therefore thinking positively implies that one has been thinking negatively, that one must counteract these negative thoughts with positive ones.
While science is working on proving the power of positive thought, it has without question proven the power of negative thought. For example, a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that women with symptoms of major depression were twice as likely to die from cardiac arrest.
Anger and depression in male heart patients has likewise been correlated with experiencing a second heart attack. While positive thoughts may not have yet been the subject of such conclusive studies, science has proven the relationship between emotional well-being and cancer.
Emotional well-being is critical to physical health.
Let the positive be purely positive. Use affirmations. Express gratitude. Say thank you a hundred times a day. For health, wealth, wisdom, children, whatever it may be. Count your blessings.
Thoughts change our physiology. It’s a proven fact. The science of neuroplasty has proven that positive thinking changes the brain in a very real way. Our brains are adaptable, dynamic, elastic.
Positive thoughts – repetitive positive thoughts – combined with positive action are capable of rewiring the brain and strengthening the part of your brain that creates positive feelings.
It’s like exercise. It must be done regularly. Metaphysicians and Yogis agree it takes 40 days to alter the brain’s neural pathways and create lasting change. (Remember Moses? He spent 40 days on Mount Sinai. Buddha also reached enlightenment after meditating and fasting for 40 days).
So forget Pollyanna. Be like Buddha. At least for 40 days.
Another important caveat:
Water responds to thought.
This is incredibly important since the things we eat and drink are largely made up of water, as are our bodies. Dr. Masaru Emoto, a Japanese author and entrepreneur, has done extensive research showing how thoughts can change the molecular structure of water.
By photographing crystals made by water exposed to words such as “love,” “gratitude,” or “hate,” Dr. Emoto showed how water takes on the thoughts that we think.
As an action step, start preparing food with positive thoughts. Cook meals with love and gratitude. Shop for groceries with a warm heart. Chop veggies and express gratitude for the sharpness of the knife and crunch of the green pepper.
How to think positively.
If the goal is to eat healthier or lose weight, then a course of action is definitely in order. One positive thought does not a healthy meal make. Instead, choose the thoughts that best support the life you want to lead:
I love vegetables. They provide so many nutrients for my healthy body. They make me feel so good.
The message you’re sending to your brains is: vegetables, nutrients, healthy body, feeling good. All wonderful. But beware the power of negatively framed affirmations.
Watch out for negative thoughts in disguise.
I don’t like Big Macs anymore. I never eat French Fries. Fatty foods have no power over me.
The message you’re sending to your brain is: Big Macs, french fries, fatty foods.
Thinking a Big Mac is healthy doesn’t make it healthy. New Age thinking states that “the universe doesn’t hear No.” This means that you must frame your thoughts within the context of what you want rather than what you don’t want.
Keep a journal of positive messages. Retrain your brain in as many way as you can. Meditation is extremely useful for rewiring the brain. Meditate on a healthy body. Meditate on delicious, fresh fruits. Meditate on more energy, vitality and happiness.
Recently the Journal of Applied Psychology: Health and Wellness reviewed eight studies on the connection between happiness and health. The general conclusion was that your subjective well-being (ie. positive feelings, low stress, feelings of happiness) are a huge contributor to health and longevity.
That’s good news if you’re a comfort eater, which most of us are. When you feel good, you don’t crave potato chips and chewy candies. Reaching for high-fat, low-nutrient foods is often a response to stress and unhappiness. Positive thinking can help overcome those feelings much better than a chocolate bar or a pack of Doritos.
So can positive thoughts help you eat better? No. But you can help you eat better. And positive thoughts are a great place to start.