Beyond the messages around healthy and nutritious food, mindset is an often-overlooked participant in successful nutrition interventions.
Last week’s High Performance at Home post from the NSW Institute of Sport Performance Psychologists on fixed and growth mindset can also be applied to your diet and nutrition. It can help with how you approach food choices, long term behaviour change and health.
Each time you eat you’re making a choice about what you are going to put into your body. This also means that each time you eat there is an opportunity to contribute to your health and work towards a goal if you have one.
A fixed or growth mindset plays a role in how you accept this opportunity.
It was explained that having a fixed mindset can result in being emotional, acting in fear, and continually comparing yourself to others. This can lead to comparing what you’re eating to others as a benchmark for whether your diet is on track. It can mean comparing what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ rather than know what is right for your needs and your body. You can often get held back with excuses; reasons why you can’t eat healthy or why you can’t make changes or do better to reach your goals.
Conversely, those with a growth mindset believe they can constantly improve and develop lifestyle skills and habits to evolve their diet to be eating in a way that makes them feel a way they want to feel. They can develop an understanding of their nutrition needs through feedback and awareness of the body to learn from how it responds to food to adapt and apply it next time they eat. They take ownership over what they put in their mouth by making the effort find what’s best for them in the circumstances they are in.
Some examples of how a growth or fixed mindset might be presenting in a nutrition context are below:
|Fixed Mindset||Growth Mindset|
|I still haven’t lost weight, I’ll never be able to lose weight so what the point?||I know by working on my habits and making small changes to my diet each day I’ll be able to contribute to my health for a healthy mind and body. Plus I’ll reach my desired body composition or weight in time.|
|I didn’t pack my food today my diet plan is ruined.||It’s a little extra effort but I will get myself to that sandwich shop so I can still have a balanced choice, it’s just different to what I had planned.|
|I heard meat* is bad for me when I eat a lot so I’ll cut it out completely.
(*note: or the latest fad)
|Perhaps I can learn from this to be mindful of choices and reduce or modify my intake but still include a food I enjoy.|
|There is birthday cake in the office today so I ate that for morning tea because that’s what we always do.||Last time we had the birthday cake it made me feel tired and sluggish all afternoon. I don’t want to feel like that so I will just enjoy the company of others without the cake.|
|I ate all that bad food at a party, what a waste of all my effort to eat well so far.||I really enjoyed catching up with my friends and will go back to what I’m familiar with tomorrow.|
|I didn’t have a healthy lunch so why have a healthy dinner.||I enjoyed my lunch so won’t let feelings of guilt or regret ruin that, but I will refocus my choices at dinner to continue habits which benefit my health more.|
|I can’t eat first thing in the morning before training it makes me feel sick.||I find eating in the morning difficult but if it helps me to train harder I will try something small and build on that.|