MONTREAL, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Elite athletes visualize their performance, and the same technique can help people visualize their way to healthier eating, Canadian researchers say.
Barbel Knauper of McGill University's psychology department and her students asked 177 other students at McGill's New Residence Hall to set themselves the goal of consuming more fruit for a period of seven days.
The study, published in Psychology & Health, found although all the students in the study ended up consuming more fruit over the course of the week, those who made a plan, wrote it down and then visualized how they were going to carry out the action increased their fruit consumption by twice as much.
"Telling people to just change the way they eat doesn't work; we've known that for a while," Knauper says in a statement. "But research has shown that if people make a concrete plan about what they are going to do, they are better at acting on their intentions. What we've done that's new is to add visualization techniques to the action plan.
"Athletes do lots of work mentally rehearsing their performances before competing … so we thought having people mentally rehearse how they were going to buy and eat their fruit should make it more likely that they would," and that is what happened, Knauper says.