Food and mood are powerfully connected in a multitude of ways. Gary Foster explores these connections in his excellent new book, The Shift: 7 Powerful Mindset Changes for Lasting Weight Loss. It also applies to fruit and vegetable consumption.
Foster has a deep personal and professional understanding of the connections between food and mood. He is a world-renowned psychologist who has published on topics like weight stigma. He as has served for 10 years as the Chief Scientific Officer at WW (formerly Weight Watchers). And, having lived his entire life with Type 1 Diabetes, he would have intimate experience with the emotions of diet management.
Be happy now, with gratitude (for fruits and vegetables)
Foster implores people to be happy now:
“ … the happier you can make yourself now—rather than waiting first to lose weight—the easier it is to engage in behaviors that help you lose weight…Happier people make healthier choices, such as eating healthier food, exercising more, and getting better sleep. Engaging in these healthier behaviors in turn brings you satisfaction, which contributes to happiness, a virtuous cycle that you can jump in on.” (p. 206).
Fruits and vegetables can help us be happy now. Foster encourages people to use gratitude, which has been shown to increase one’s feelings of happiness. Even gratitude for small things can be powerful. How might we encourage people to experience gratitude for the amazing natural and technological processes that bring us fruits and vegetables?
In America, we have an entire holiday essentially devoted to this – Thanksgiving. And millions of households have daily rituals of gratitude expression at mealtime. Could some of these rituals become more focused on fruits and vegetables? Foster notes some general principle of gratitude to keep in mind as we express gratitude, and I would argue that all of these are consistent with focusing some gratitude on fruits and vegetables:
- Nothing is too small to warrant gratitude
- Practicing gratitude is not meant only for tough times
- Turn gratitude into a routine
- The more specific your gratitude, the better
Perhaps PBH audiences could suggest some specific expressions of gratitude and encourage others to do the same. Here are some of mine:
- I am grateful that my kids love apples
- I am grateful for the one million plus farm workers in the United States
- I am grateful for the distribution system that brought the fruits and vegetable that my children ate today to our home
- I am grateful for the fact that every single day I am able to eat fruits and vegetables because of their incredible abundance and availability
- I am grateful to PBH members and others in the industry who are constantly innovating to make fruits and vegetables even more abundant, and even easier to get to the table.
Fruit and vegetable gratitude can be part of a general gratitude-oriented routine and way of life that supports, “happiness now”.
Fruits and vegetables are guilt-free, and something to be proud of
Foster rightly encourages happiness first. We can’t make our happiness contingent on weight loss success. Indeed, doing so would reduce our chances of success.
As we noted in a previous article, eating foods we know to be healthy can give us feelings of pride. The inherent “guilt free” status of fruits and vegetables also support feelings of increased self-esteem, especially if the fruit and vegetable consumption can replace some “guilty” food experiences.
It is encouraging to see that fruits and vegetables are some of the key heroes in the WW weight loss plan. Our foods make it easier to do the right thing, and doing the right thing always feels good.
In his chapter on “small steps for big results”, Foster says, “You need to get your mind to a place where it says, Small, specific changes are great. Not okay. Not good. Great.”
Fruits and vegetables offer so many small change opportunities – everyone can create at least one to be proud of – whether it’s the proverbial “apple a day” or one of other thousand ways to add more daily fruits and vegetables to our diets. Fruits and vegetables offer so much opportunity for pride.
Foster’s book describes 7 mindsets for weight loss, including gratitude and pride in small change. All 7 shifts he describes show how the connections between food and mood can be harnessed for successful change, including adding more fruits and vegetables to our daily diets.