How to Trick Your Brain into Making Healthy Choices
If you’re like most people, mid-January is when your healthy new years goals start to feel exhausting. When you’re busy and tired, your brain starts looking for ways to cut corners. We talked to Kate Geagan, one of our hydration advisors, about some sneaky ways to trick yourself into keeping healthier habits—even when you’re short on willpower. Kate is a nationally-recognized nutritionist and author, and a regular guest on the Dr. Oz show, Katie Couric, and Access Hollywood Live. She’s an expert at giving advice that’s a) backed up by actual research and b) realistic and simple enough to incorporate into your daily routine.
Set Bold Goals, Then Break Them Down Into Steps
According to Kate, “Keeping your eye on high level goals helps you tune out the noise and stay focused on what will bring you the biggest results. But there’s something else amazing at work too: new research suggests putting our focus on our higher level goals in effect ‘turns on’ our subconscious willpower, enhancing our resolve so we succeed at a much higher rate.” She recommends choosing an ambitious goal, and then breaking it down into specific daily actions, like getting a certain amount of sleep every night, or packing at least two healthy snacks for work every day.
Set up Refueling Stations
Plan for the moments when you’re going to be tired, busy, or just plain hangry—situations where you’ll just want to refuel with whatever is most convenient. Keep a water bottle and a few healthy snacks stashed in your glove compartment, at your desk, or in your gym bag. Since willpower is a finite resource, you’re more likely to succeed if you make healthy options the fastest, easiest choice.
Put a Straw in It
Hydration is a huge part of staying focused and alert all day long. But it’s not enough to carry a water bottle around with you—you actually have to remember to drink from it. A Pepperdine University study showed that people drink 24% more water when their bottle had a straw. Even the simple act of unscrewing a cap to drink can discourage people from taking those extra sips during the day (yes, your brain really is that lazy). Try using a water bottle that lets you drink one-handed, so you can hydrate without stopping what you’re doing.
Ignore the Diet Tribes
With so much conflicting health advice out there, it can feel impossible to tell what’s really healthy, and what’s a fad. Kate notes that “On the face of it, you’d think that it’s a free-for-all, and no one’s really sure what works.” But the basics are simple and proven: “In truth, we know enough to prevent 80% of chronic, debilitating disease just through diet, exercise, and not smoking. This is incredible if you think about it, and more powerful than any single drug on the market.” Stay active, eat your vegetables, and don’t worry too much about the latest fad in cleanses.