Improve your happiness with fruits, vegetables and exercise, study finds
In particular, the study showed that a diet high in fruits and vegetables and regular travel makes people happy, rather than the other way around – that happier people may be more likely to choose health-promoting behaviors. The reason comes down to the ability of people to delay gratification.
“Fruit and vegetable consumption and sport activity are often undertaken as investments in a healthier future rather than because they provide immediate pleasure,” the researchers write. When we make a conscious decision to postpone our gratification, by eating vegetables or scheduling a run, we can alter the neural pathways in our brains. Specifically, we numb the limbic system (associated with survival and our ‘fight or flight’ mode). “The ability to delay gratification is strongly correlated with brain function… [therefore] healthy behaviors have a significant impact on life satisfaction, ”say the authors of the article.
If you’re struggling to maintain an active routine or choose plant-based meals, you’re not alone. “Considering the amount of information provided by health professionals regarding the impact of lifestyle on health, it is clearly not a lack of information that undermines healthy lifestyles,” the authors acknowledge. researchers. “The fact that New Year’s resolutions often involve such activities is a testament to this awareness. However, the fact that in the vast majority of cases New Year’s resolutions are not kept is also a testament to the fact that there are other factors at play here. Chief among these is the ability to delay gratification.
We find it so difficult to delay gratification – even though we know it’s good for us – because it seems our personalities are divided into “the planner,” who sets goals, and “the doer,” who focuses on short-term gains. “This division appears to be closely related to human brain function, something neuroscientists have long recognized,” the article says. The way to improve your ability to choose fruits and vegetables, and therefore improve your happiness, is to help the planner win.
They don’t offer solutions for the types of behaviors that can help the planner, but simple things like preparing meals or paying for classes in advance make it a bit easier to add these items to our lifestyle. Of course, there are a myriad of reasons why eating more fruits and vegetables and exercising regularly are good for your physical and mental health – this is just one of them. But if these small changes can “not only benefit [your] long-term physical health, but also [your] short-term mental well-being ”, as the authors state, this is a very good place to start.