One of the things we’re often told is that if we want to establish healthy eating habits, we need to have willpower. We’re continually assured and reminded that as long as we’re determined, we can change what we eat to lose weight or achieve better nutrition. However, research has shown that motivation works quite differently than that.
University of East Anglia (UEA) research has indicated that people who maintain a positive attitude have a greater likelihood of keeping up healthy eating habits. The study examined the role the regulatory focus theory has on motivating consumers’ involvement in nutrition. This means that it measured the time and effort consumers applied to learning about nutrition and obtaining food they’ve determined to be nutritious.
The Impact of Motivation on Healthy Eating Habits
The researchers also used this study to look into the impact of nutrition involvement on the knowledge a consumer has and on the dietary behaviors they exhibit.
The study determined that there are substantial motivational differences based on two concepts: promotion and prevention. These factors guide nutrition behaviors. Individuals who focus on promotion are those concerned with seeking out positive outcomes. For instance, taking on healthy behaviors. That said, individuals who focus on prevention are aiming to stop negative outcomes. For instance, doing things to stop unhealthy behaviors.
The research findings were published in the Appetite journal. They revealed that consumers who are focused on promotion will often become involved in nutrition. From there, they obtain more nutrition knowledge and will make adjustments for healthy eating habits following advice from others such as friends and family or from the media or their doctors. That said, the researchers found that those with a prevention focus did not experience any impact on their nutrition involvement.
They also found that those who have a promotion focus on being involved in their nutrition were more likely to be from the group of participants who had higher income levels. The evidence indicated that promotion focus was also more common in men than women. However, the researchers also stated that this was not a surprise as prior research indicated that women have higher healthy eating habits overall, regardless of whether they have a promotion focus or a prevention focus.
These findings can help to improve motivation strategies for developing healthy eating habits. It can help to ensure that the right push will be in place to keep people on track to actively improve their nutrition.