Do you have a health halo?

February 2, 2016 BY: LISA

What do you do when you have made a ‘good’ food choice?

A health halo is something psychologists have labelled to describe the feeling people get when they feel they are being virtuous. If there is salad on the plate or the meal is perceived as healthy people will eat more and estimate the meal to have fewer calories. Chronic dieters were most susceptible to the halo effect.

Catkin / Pixabay

This is the problem with labelling foods as good and bad as it means there is a feeling associated with them. The problems with feelings are they take the place of common sense and you start acting in a way you don’t want to because you are feeling good about eating a salad at some point in the day.


The trick? Look for a concrete measure of the truth. While I’m not into calorie counting as that is hard work and a lot like dieting- it could be a way to make you see sense if you had to investigate the calorie load of the food you were planning on eating because you had been so ‘good.’


The interesting twist is you only need to reward yourself for ‘good’ behaviour when you believe the person you really are is the self that wants to be ‘bad.’ If you relate more to the person you would like to become- that’s the person who wants to make good choices- you wouldn’t need a reward for doing something you already expected you would do.


It’s kind of like going to the gym. Those people who don’t go to the gym very often will tell everyone they went to the gym and feel really good about themselves (which is fine) BUT the people who expect they will go to the gym just go and don’t need to tell people about it as it’s what they do – you don’t need a reward for getting up in the morning. If you expect yourself to make a healthy choice it’s no surprise and you don’t need a reward.



What do you expect your behaviour to reflect?

The self that wants to be ‘bad’ or the self that wants to be ‘good’ ?




I’ve been reading Kelly McGonigal’s book “The Will Power Instinct” if you are interested in looking into this further.





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