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On carrots and curiosity: Eating fruit and vegetables is associated with greater flourishing in daily life




Our aim was to determine whether eating fruit and vegetables (FV) is associated with other markers of well-being beyond happiness and life satisfaction. Towards this aim, we tested whether FV consumption is associated with greater eudaemonic well-being – a state of flourishing characterized by feelings of engagement, meaning, and purpose in life. We also tested associations with two eudaemonic behaviours – curiosity and creativity.


Daily diary study across 13 days (micro-longitudinal, correlational design).


A sample of 405 young adults (67% women; mean age 19.9 [SD 1.6] years) completed an Internet daily diary for 13 consecutive days. Each day, participants reported on their consumption of fruit, vegetables, sweets, and chips, as well as their eudaemonic well-being, curiosity, creativity, positive affect (PA), and negative affect. Between-person associations were analysed on aggregated data. Within-person associations were analysed using multilevel models controlling for weekday and weekend patterns.


Fruit and vegetables consumption predicted greater eudaemonic well-being, curiosity, and creativity at the between- and within-person levels. Young adults who ate more FV reported higher average eudaemonic well-being, more intense feelings of curiosity, and greater creativity compared with young adults who ate less FV. On days when young adults ate more FV, they reported greater eudaemonic well-being, curiosity, and creativity compared with days when they ate less FV. FV consumption also predicted higher PA, which mostly did not account for the associations between FV and the other well-being variables. Few unhealthy foods (sweets, chips) were related to well-being except that consumption of sweets was associated with greater curiosity and PA at the within-person level. Lagged data analyses showed no carry-over effects of FV consumption onto next-day well-being (or vice versa).


Although these patterns are strictly correlational, this study provides the first evidence that FV consumption may be related to a broader range of well-being states that signal human flourishing in early adulthood.

Statement of contribution

What is already known on this subject?

  • There is growing evidence that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (FV) is related to greater happiness, life satisfaction, and positive affect. These associations are not entirely explained by demographic or health variables including socio-economic status, exercise, smoking, and body mass index (BMI).
  • Recent experimental and daily diary research suggests that FV consumption may be a causal factor in promoting states of positive well-being.
  • Research has examined the links between FV consumption and hedonic well-being – whether people feel good (vs. bad) and satisfied—but has not addressed links between FV consumption and eudaemonic well-being— whether people feel engaged and experience their lives as meaningful and purposeful.

What does this study add?

  • It provides the first evidence that eating FV is related to greater eudaemonic well-being in a naturalistic setting.
  • Eating FV was also related to greater self-reported curiosity and creativity.
  • FV consumption may underlie a broad range of experiences that signal flourishing.
  • Future randomised controlled trials of FV should include measures of eudaemonic well-being as outcome variables.