caffeine withdrawal

Grit, Growth Mindset and Its Connection To Food Choices

What if I told you that you need to be able to fail, to be wrong and to start over again in order to succeed. What if you could change your mindset in order to create longevity in your successes.

I watched a recent TED talk by Angela Lee Duckworth where she talks about her various studies to understand which children and adults in different circumstances were more likely to be successful. She analysed a military academy and a spelling bee in order to see who would finish their military training, and who would reign successful in the competition. 

Her finding highlighted that that individuals that possessed grit were more likely to be successful.

What is Grit?

Grit is defined as:

“a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a particular long-term goal or end state (a powerful motivation to achieve an objective)”

With this personality trait there is a focus on long term goal achievement rather than short term pleasure. Meaning these cadets and students had perseverance and passion to continue working despite setbacks in order to achieve their long term goals. This was the deciding factor above all others, including socio-economic status, attractiveness, IQ, etc.

If you have read my other blog post titled ‘Why can’t I stick to my diet‘ I discuss this as being due to System 1 and 2. The child in us (System 1) wants the immediate gratification but the adult in us (System 2) understands the logical benefit of delayed gratification.

With regards to many topics including food choices, exercise, leading a healthy lifestyle, etc. possessing grit is a fundamental way to continue down a path despite the obstacles we may encounter.

How do I get Grit?

I have had many friends and family come to me and tell me how they have fallen off the wagon with lockdown and that being healthy and exercising has not been possible, or at the front of their minds. After pondering over this, I wondered if grit had a part to play in this.

Despite the major setback the pandemic has caused, many of us would like to get back to where we were. By implementing grit we can move past these obstacles, and actively try to carry on making better food choices and life choices.

Duckworth comments that the best way to achieve grit is by having a growth mindset. 

What is a Growth Mindset?

Growth Mindset was first coined by Carol Dweck as a concept in which a persons mindset can affect their performance and achievements. She presented this in a number of studies and discusses the two mindsets a person can hold, a fixed vs growth mindset.

  1.  Fixed mindset: The belief that ones abilities and intelligence are fixed and nothing can be done to change this. Either a person is smart, or they are not!
  2. Growth mindset: The belief that ones abilities and intelligence are malleableand if you put in the effort and time you can develop them further. A person works hard to achieve something!
With a fixed mindset individuals believe that people have different skills and these cannot be learned, whereas a growth mindset individual will recognise they can learn skills over time.

Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset

The image above shows a brief overview of some of the ways in which an individual with a growth mindset will react to a problem, when compared to that of a fixed mindset. 

With these mindsets individuals can face problems with consequences that go beyond just food choices including behaviour in the workplace, career choices, personal life choices, etc. I have listed some of the signs of each mindset below, in order to directly compare them.

Mindset Signs In An Individual

Growth Mindset

  • Their goal is to develop abilities over time.
  • They embrace new and challenging tasks as opportunities to learn.
  • They are more persistent and show high resilience when obstacles are ahead.
  • They enjoy putting in the effort because the past has shown that it is worth working on something.
  • They handle setbacks in a constructive way.
  • They are more likely to develop new strategies, and try everything they can to succeed.

Fixed Mindset

  • Their goal is to always look smart to others.
  • They avoid new challenges and miss opportunities to learn from mistakes.
  • They stop trying sooner and show less resilience when obstacles are detected.
  • They don’t bother putting in effort, they believe you either have it in you or you don’t.
  • They have problems with setbacks and attribute this to a lack of intelligence.
  • They are more likely to lie about obtained scores in tests, blame others or consider cheating.

Can I develop a Growth Mindset?

I am delighted to tell you that a growth mindset can be achieved by anyone who wishes to have one. That’s not to say it is easy to do, but it certainly is achievable!

If you make individuals aware of different mindsets, the signs, and the consequences, you can start the process of moving towards a growth mindset. So technically if you have read this, you are already 10% there!

Next you need to emphasis and rewards the process instead of the successful solutions. In terms of making healthier choices, celebrate the small wins like reducing from 3 chocolate bars to 2. This will motivate you to carry on with your plan.

Praise effort and resilience, not intelligence. If you have a friend who is working hard at something or trying to lose that lockdown weight, praise them for their effort to carry on and the hard work they are putting in. This will be a much more beneficial way to support them, and help their growth mindset develop.

Be encouraged to try new and difficult challenges. By setting personal goals that initially seem out of reach, you set yourself a challenge. Remember that you are trying to better than the person you were yesterday, not anyone else around you.

And lastly, remember that the goal is not fast learning and immediate results, its deep learning and long term goals that we are interested in. These take time and can seem never ending, but the grit trait you develop will help you not only in your food and health choices, but many aspect of your daily life.

Do you have a fixed or growth mindset? Have you come across any interesting topics around this? Leave your comments below!

Check out the TED talk from Angela Lee Duckworth below:


Dweck, C. S. (2000). Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development. Psychology press.

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