ANN ARBOR—The constant temptation of tasty foods high in calories and fat make it difficult for people to make healthy choices, but talking to yourself in the third person may help, say researchers at the University of Michigan and University of Minnesota.

A new study published in Clinical Psychological Science finds that a technique known as “distanced self-talk,” which refers to an internal dialog using one’s name or non-first-person pronouns such as “you, he or she,” is an effective strategy for making healthier food choices.

“Reflecting on one’s decisions using one’s own name might enhance one’s ability to follow through with their goals, which can often be undermined by strong situational lures (such as tempting foods),” said study lead author Celina Furman, a former University of Michigan researcher who is now a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota.

Furman and University of Michigan researchers Ethan Kross and Ashley Gearhardt found that psychological distance facilitates self-control by shifting people’s focus away from the highly arousing features of a stimulus.

For example, a piece of chocolate cake can be viewed as highly delicious, but a distanced perspective may lead one to pay attention to abstract features relevant to health goals, such as its high-calorie content.

Read the full article at Michigan News.